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Editorial: Don't panic over virus increase

The Detroit News

No one should have expected the reopening of America after the long COVID-19 shutdown would be seamless. More people out and about means more opportunities for exposure to the virus.

And that’s what seems to be happening, as several states are reporting spikes in new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks.

At this point, the increase should serve as a reminder that common-sense safety precautions are still very much needed. But it shouldn’t lead to a resumption of the harsh stay-at-home orders that devastated the nation’s economy this spring.

But COVID-19 deaths are not yet rising in proportion to the number of new cases.

That may be because deaths do somewhat lag new cases. It may take a couple of more weeks to determine whether the virus is killing at the same pace as it did earlier in the year.

The increase in cases is more heavily weighted toward younger victims who are less likely to get severely ill and die. 

In this June 16, 2020, file photo, signs remind patrons to wear masks and other protocols because of the coronavirus pandemic as they stroll through the Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

And medical personnel have learned a lot about treating COVID-19, and that could impact the death rate as well.

Testing has increased as well, and more asymptomatic victims are being identified. The point is we don’t know what to expect in the coming weeks and months as the reopening widens. 

Surges are likely to continue until a vaccine is available.

The recent spike is no reason to panic, nor to prompt government to again close businesses and lock us in our homes. 

It is a reminder that we have to learn to live with COVID-19. That means remaining vigilant about prevention.

Wear a mask — it may not be a fail-safe barrier to infection, but it certainly helps. Keep up with hand washing. Don't shake hands. Social distance.

These precautions are inconvenient but far better than having our freedom stripped away in the name of fighting the virus.

America can’t afford to shut down again. Nor can it endure a major escalation of the pandemic.

So do whatever you can to protect yourself and others from infection.