Quarantine is affecting us all, but ending it the wrong way will just make it worse

As I sit here writing this, it’s been 41 days since Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and then Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins first issued disaster declarations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price followed suit soon after.

Forty-one days.

For most of that time, I have been working from home. Every day, I get up, get dressed and make that loooong commute down the hall to my “office,” also known as my living room. (My wife is also working from home; she has to commute all the way to the dining room.) It is a dicey situation; my desk is dangerously near the kitchen, with the TV just on the other side.

I joke (not about the kitchen, although surprisingly enough, I rarely turn on the TV), but at the same time, I have found myself working much, much more since I started working from home. Although my workday doesn’t officially start til 9 a.m., Monday through Friday, I am often at my desk by 8 a.m. or so, simply because

I don’t have to drive anywhere. And I don’t think I have stopped working at 5 any workday since this all started.

And speaking of workdays — every day is a workday now. I have worked every day since March 9 for at least an hour or so. I am starting to get worn out. I feel guilty for complaining though, because I know so many people have it so much worse. At least everyone in my household still has a job (both sons are essential workers at an office supply store).

There are people who have lost their livelihood completely — those who worked at restaurants and bars, hair and nail salons, retail stores not deemed essential, and those who are watching the businesses they built slowly crumble. Those who lost jobs were promised the regular state unemployment payments plus extra from the federal government. But the system has been so swamped it is nearly impossible for them to even get through to apply. I know one woman who was just trying to get into the Texas Workforce Commission website to download the application to fill out and mail in; she finally got through about 2 a.m.

And what about the small business owners? I mean the actual small business owners, the ones who saw the promise of a variety of amped-up Small Business Administration loans dangled in front of them, only to see most of the available funds sucked up by not-so-really-small small businesses before anyone else could even get their applications filled out.

And that’s not even mentioning the “stimulus checks” folks were supposed to get. Yes, some people have received their checks, but others — often, the ones who really need them — are still waiting since the delivery of actual paper checks (instead of direct deposit) was delayed by Donald Trump insisting that his signature be on each one. Other people will never get their checks, because Congress failed to include protections keeping those checks from being garnished to pay off debts.

In other words, I know that, in the grand scheme of things, my complaints about long hours and an uncomfortable desk chair are nothing compared to what other people are facing — all in an effort to “flatten the curve” of infections and keep our healthcare infrastructure from collapsing and keep people from becoming seriously ill or even dying.

But now — after all that hardship, all the sacrifices people have made to try and contain this virus and mute its impact — I am watching politicians getting ready to waste it all by lifting restrictions and opening everything back up way too soon.

Yes, I want things to get back to the so-called normal. Yes, I want my friends and family to be able to open their businesses and go back to their jobs. Yes, I want our flat-lining economy to be revived.

But I also want my friends and family to stay alive. I want them to be healthy. I am not willing to sacrifice my loved ones on the altar of greed and money. And after all, if they are killed or disabled by the virus, they won’t be out working or running a business or spending money at someone else’s business.

Yes, we need to “open up our country” again. But we have to be smart about it. And people crowding together in front of government buildings, without masks or any or form of protection, to wave signs bearing misspelled slogans about their right to put themselves and everyone else at risk is not being smart about it.

Opening up businesses without enforcing rules calling for face masks and proper physical distancing, etc., is not being smart about it.

The president wasting time bragging about what a great job he’s doing (rather than admitting he royally screwed up) and pushing doctors to use a medication that has no benefit other than putting money in his and his supporters’ pockets is not being smart about it.

State and local politicians arguing over who’s order supersedes who’s in hopes of making political points that will help them in the next election, instead of working together to do what is actually best for the people, is not being smart about it.

Being smart about it means having rules and enforcing them. Being smart about it means having enough tests available so that everyone can find out if they are positive and if so, what they need to do to protect themselves and others. Being smart about it is having our elected officials focus on what’s best for the people, not best for their own re-election hopes.

So, let’s be smart about this for a change. There is a way forward, and we have to find it soon.

Tammye Nash is managing editor of Dallas Voice. Opinions here are her own and do not represent the views of Dallas Voice as a whole.