Living on the border of Arkansas and a little more than an hour away from Memphis is a reminder of how everyone should be on the same page when handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
My car recently needed some repairs. They were nothing major, but I could not find anyone in Coahoma County to fix the problem and had to take my vehicle to a car dealer in Memphis.
Those things happen, but because we live so close to two other states, when my car couldn’t be fixed locally, the odds of having to take it out of state increased.
Even though everything went just fine, as I left Mississippi and crossed the border to Tennessee, I could only hope proper precautions were being taken.
During my time in Tennessee, I also went to a gas station to fill and took the opportunity to see a good friend who just happened to live near the car dealer. My friend and I went to a park and properly social distanced.
If something the state of Tennessee was not doing properly caused me to contract the coronavirus, I would have brought it back to Coahoma County. It would not have mattered if everyone in Mississippi, Clarksdale and Coahoma County were doing everything right.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently put an executive order in place for everyone in the state to wear a mask.
Having lived in Arkansas for six years, I saw many of my Facebook friends making posts disagreeing with Hutchinson’s order. They were sharing posts from different police departments saying they would not respond to calls from citizens complaining someone was violating the order to wear masks.
Fortunately, Helena-West Helena, Ark., Mayor Kevin Smith is following the order.
Smith posted on his Facebook page the first infraction would be a warning and every infraction following would be a fine of $100 to $500.
As a Coahoma County resident, I was grateful to see the matter being taken seriously in Helena-West Helena. It is a 30-minute drive from where I live to Helena-West Helena.
Since Hutchinson’s order to wear the mask is being taken seriously in Helena-West Helena, COVID-19 is less likely to spread on the other side of the Mississippi River.
That means, when Coahoma County residents cross the bridge and go to Helena, they are taking much less of a risk. When Helena-West Helena residents come to Coahoma County, the risk for all of us who live here is significantly less.
We cannot build walls at the border of any state and community. What each state and community does impacts everyone else and we all must be on the same page if we are going to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
I do understand some matters could be decided at state and local levels. That is why we have all different forms of government.
Magnolia State rules
When Gov. Tate Reeves ordered all public schools to be closed in Mississippi for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, it was a good decision for him to make because only kids in our state were attending those schools.
Curfews could easily be decided locally. Each town is different as far its population goes and how many individuals have tested positive for the coronavirus.
However, when it comes to the big decisions, key leadership needs to come from the top in Washington DC.
The federal government needs to make decisions on the importance of wearing a mask, how everyone should social distance and use hand sanitizer and how to provide everyone proper testing for the coronavirus. The federal government should have procedures in place to make sure anyone who may or does have the coronavirus is properly quarantined.
While each business is different and some of the regulations should be determined locally, the big decisions should come from the federal government. The federal government should make decisions on when it is unsafe for the public to enter a non-essential business.
Stopping the spread
If the corornavrius did not spread as much, we would all be healthier and have an easier time of completely reopening the economy much sooner.
There are so many unanswered questions about the coronavrius right now.
How can we have proper and accessible testing for everyone?
What are the signs of the coronavirus?
When will a vaccine come around?
With all of the unknowns out there, the best thing to do is keep everyone safe. I am not suggesting we keep businesses from operating. I am suggesting, until we get a hold on how to properly combat the coronavirus, we find alternative ways to keep businesses open and make customers safe at the same time.
We cannot do it alone. We do not live in a vacuum. We must all work together, be on the same page and that leadership must come from the federal government.
Josh Troy is the Managing Editor of your Clarksdale Press Register. You can talk to him at our offices at 128 East Second Street in downtown Clarksdale, but please wear your mask.