Enduring relationships are built on trust. Safer at Home lacks trust.

On the surface, the governor’s Safer at Home order appears to make sense. By washing hands, avoiding large crowds and maintaining social distance, an individual is at low risk of contracting the COVID-19 illness.

But Safer at Home isn’t an action. It is a reaction that lacks real data to let anyone take safety into their own hands. Instead of empowering the public, Safer at Home and the limited data made public so far —especially at the local level — has rendered the public powerless.

While the public is advised to blindly buy into “makes sense” measures within Safer at Home, health leaders have failed to grasp it takes two to maintain trust. Individuals are told to stay home. They are ordered to avoid others. They have seen their freedoms replaced by fears for themselves and their families.

Individuals have been getting little useful information about how to actually avoid catching COVID-19. Hardly any information is shared about patients who have tested positive for the virus other than cryptic countywide data that becomes more meaningless for counties with larger populations. Little information is made public about patients’ municipality, age or gender.

At the state level, health officials have been unable to provide more useful localized data. Rusk County health officials have said they will not release any demographic information unless it is relevant. It makes sense even the smallest detail is relevant if it allows individuals to be proactive in avoiding contracting a deadly invisible disease.

The threat of the coronavirus and the importance of public health should not be understated, but the limited data made public offers little protection. It puts a strain on the public’s faith and trust.

The public is being blindly asked to heed government health warnings while getting little in return. The public has been shut down. Individuals have lost their livelihoods. They have handed over their trust and gotten little back that lets them take control over their wellbeing. 

About the only thing left for the public to do now is keep washing their hands, avoiding large gatherings and maintaining social distancing. Then people can at least hope they don’t come into contact with an individual with a disease they know very little about.


Ladysmith News editorials are written by news staff

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