Our View

We can do this well.

Or badly.

It's up to us.

Joplin's economy — Missouri's too — begins reopening today in phases.

We can apply some common sense with a dose of prudence and a willingness to adhere to best practices and recommended guidelines — social distancing, for example, and wearing masks when needed — and if we do that, our community, our country continue going forward.

Or we can do this recklessly, thoughtlessly, with a pedal-to-the-metal attitude and a belief that rules need no longer apply. That will surely make matters worse, both for our economic and public health.

Maybe you saw the protester's poster recently that said, "Sacrifice the weak, Reopen ..."

No one wants that. COVID-19 has already claimed more than 62,000 Americans, and this isn't over yet.

At the same time, we're afraid this community, this country, could continue its slide into an economic collapse to rival the Great Depression. Last week, we reported on an economic forecast that predicted Joplin's unemployment rate could hit 26 percent within the next 12 months. No one wants that, either.

What we want is for the economy to go forward AND for our neighbors, our countrymen, to be safe.

It's not an either-or; we need both.

We've talked to dozens of businesses around the region in the last few weeks. The pain is real. Some, candidly, won't survive. Yet they all told us the same thing — they can reopen and do so responsibly. Give them a chance. They are implementing more aggressive cleaning and sanitation measures. They are prepared to enforce social distancing guidelines among their customers.

And the truth is, we trust them, we trust these businesses to reopen in ways that protect themselves and us.

But in the end this community's health depends on all of us. Gov. Mike Parson and Mayor Gary Shaw can lift the stay-at-home guidelines, but the real responsibility for making this work falls on each of us.

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