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Juggling Act: As states reopen amid COVID-19, we need more guidance

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

The yellow police tape is still wrapped tightly around the playset in a park in my family's subdivision, a clear reminder that COVID-19 cases may be falling, but the crisis isn't over yet. Not even close.

The tape has been there since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued her Stay at Home order in late March and it'll stay there until at least her order expires in June. But then what? This coronavirus isn't going away. But neither are we. 

Caution tape keeps children away from playground equipment at a park in the Rolling Oaks subdivision of Farmington Hills, March 24, 2020. While exercise is encouraged, corona virus concerns have closed common-use areas like playgrounds and malls.

As summer takes hold, one thing is certain: it won't be like any others we've ever experienced. Summer traditions like baseball, movies and concerts are on hold. For now, so is camping.

The Centers for Disease Control has issued some guidelines of what is and isn't considered safe in the months ahead. Playgrounds, like the one in my subdivision, are still considered a bad idea. So are crowded parks. But it's OK to visit less-crowded parks, the CDC recommends, and it's important to plan ahead. 

As the COVID-19 crisis shifts but doesn't go away, experts have spelled out some guidelines to stay safe while also slowly re-opening the economy. Yes, social distancing is the new norm as are masks in public.

But we need more guidance -- a lot more guidance. 

Should at-risk groups such as seniors who were encouraged to stay home and avoid crowds in late March continue to stay home? Is hugging grandma indefinitely off limits? The best guidelines I've found so far are on the CDC's website but they still don't spell out some specifics about socializing with loved ones going forward. 

Should at-risk groups such as seniors who were encouraged to stay home and avoid crowds in late March continue to stay home? Is hugging grandma indefinitely off limits? The best guidelines I’ve found so far are on the CDC’s website (cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/) but they still don’t spell out some specifics about socializing with loved ones.

The coronavirus has not only reshaped our lives in a matter of months but it’s engulfed us in uncertainty. That makes going forward even harder. We need public health experts to spell out as much as they can going forward about what is and isn’t OK. 

And what about those who can't go along with social distancing and mask guidelines? My daughter, who has special needs, won't wear a mask and doesn't understand social distancing. She loves going to Walmart and but those visits are indefinitely on hold.

Still, life moves on. She'll have her first doctor's appointment that will require an ultrasound at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak in June. I plan to bring a gallon of hand sanitizer and a lot of prayers.

My family is taking small steps to move forward. During Memorial Day weekend, we visited a park in Clarkston about 30 minutes from our house, walking the paved paths and having lunch. We kept our distance from others but it was so nice to finally be outside, soaking up the sunshine. For a moment, all seemed right in the world. 

But as much as I want more guidance, I'm not going to question the validity of this pandemic either. Earlier this week, a friend on social media posted a meme that COVID-19 has been blown out of proportion to stymie President Donald Trump's re-election. How insulting to suggest that more than 5,000 people died in Michigan just to throw a wrench into Trump's political career. 

These are extraordinary times. No one asked for this. But it's here. Now we need to some clear guidance on what we can do to be safe -- beyond keeping six feet apart and wearing masks -- going forward.

mfeighan@detroitnews.com