Ozark businesses closed due to COVID-19

CLOSED SIGNS hang on the windows and doors as businesses on Church Street in Ozark, Two Saved Sisters Boutique and Word on the Street Bookstore.

 

“The cure is worse than the disease,” has become a popular rallying cry for those who are fed up with stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines.

I’ve heard plenty of short-sighted and not-so-clever observations about the COVID-19 pandemic since this really got going in February, but I’m out of patience for this one.

The effects of the stay-at-home and/or social distancing orders for many include loss of income, feelings of anxiety or depression. The most severe effects of the coronavirus, aside from the small percentage of people who die from it, include severe pain in the lungs, pneumonia, fever, uncontrollable shaking and permanent lung damage, among others.

I may be alone in this, but I would rather stay at home and lose some of my income than lose my life, or risk spreading a virus that ends up killing other people. I would rather get some help from a trusted friend, a support group or a professional counselor than end up in isolation on a hospital ventilator. 

I’d rather be safe than dead.

Loss of income, undoubtedly, is not good. Loss of life, I would argue, is worse.

Loss of liberty, sure, that’s not the United States of America I signed up to live in, either. I want to be able to go where I want to go, shop where I want to shop and eat where and what I want to eat.

For the people who are small business owners or entrepreneurs, I want for them to be able to get back to work so that they can maintain their livelihood, support their family and do whatever else they please with their money. Personally speaking, the longer these stay-at-home orders are in place, the more uncertain my own economic future becomes.

The demand for news and information is very high, but the demand for advertising space has dwindled severely. Advertisers have cut their marketing budgets because their businesses aren’t raking in the dough, and most advertisers don’t like having their name and logo attached to information that may be perceived as dark or negative in some way. At the same time, it would be careless and negligent for our newspaper to ignore actions associated with the coronavirus pandemic, so we’re stuck.

I’m just as ready for the social distancing to be over as anyone else, but I’m not selfish enough to come after the experts who tell me that social distancing is the best chance we have to starve this virus of its fuel.

Most of my concerns are temporary. The police and/or the National Guard are not patrolling my neighborhood looking for noncompliant nonessential workers. I’m not living like it’s “Red Dawn” or “28 Days Later.” Living under a stay-at-home order is most definitely less than ideal, but I’m willing to put up with this, temporarily, if it can protect my life and the lives of those in my community.

It’s easy to watch some politically-charged programming or scroll through my social media feed and get myself all worked up. People are upset at what this virus is doing. Since they can’t yell at a virus or ask to speak to the virus’ manager, they are yelling at the next closest persons they can find. That includes health care experts, elected and appointed officials, journalists or some stranger on Facebook.  

As patience wears thin and bank balances get smaller, the demand will grow louder. It’s up to each of us to push aside the misinformation, to see the social distancing guidelines for what they are, to see the pandemic for what it is, to make the best decisions based on facts and not feelings going forward. Above all, it’s up to all of us to think about how we treat each other as we work together to overcome these setbacks. Working together is going to be the best chance we’ve got.

—Rance Burger

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