It’s been three months since the state of West Virginia had COVID-19 restrictions in place for residents.
Since then, as case numbers have fluctuated, so have recommendations from health officials and rules at individual businesses and entities.
We’ve gotten back to normal in some ways — gathering for concerts, festivals and football games. And in others, caution still wins out, with cancellations or by pivoting to virtual gatherings. The situation can be hard to predict, frustrating and even worrisome.
A sellout crowd of 60,022 watched West Virginia University take on Virginia Tech in Morgantown on Saturday. In Huntington, more than 24,000 fans gathered at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday night for Marshall’s game against East Carolina.
Given the division of opinions that has gripped our country in the 18 months we’ve been living through a pandemic, it shouldn’t be surprising that there are disagreements simmering over events that did, or did not, happen and the ramifications of those decisions.
HD Media reporter Phil Kabler quoted Gov. Jim Justice addressing the issue of packed football stadiums Wednesday during a COVID-19 press briefing.
“To say there’s no risk is ridiculous. There’s risk everywhere,” Justice said.
But as of June 21, there was no longer a blanket policy telling us what we could and could not do with the threat of COVID-19 still looming. Like in so many other areas of our daily lives, we were tasked with weighing risk vs. reward as we planned summer activities and trips, made decisions about returning to offices or schools and were given the opportunity to once again be around other people.
“I don’t believe mandates would help us at all at this time,” Justice continued Wednesday, adding, “From the standpoint of shutting down our way of life, we don’t need to be doing that.”
On Monday, the City of Huntington announced it had canceled the Oct. 4 Fire Prevention Parade over COVID concerns. As of Thursday, planning was still underway for MU’s Homecoming parade Oct. 7.
There will be a Pumpkin Festival in Milton next month, but the downtown Huntington Chilifest has been called off for a second year.
In a recent poll of readers on The Herald-Dispatch website, 264 respondents said they had decided against attending a public event recently due to the uptick in local COVID-19 cases, while 170 said they had not made that choice (you can find and vote on the poll at www.herald-dispatch.com/polls/).
Calling on Justice to once again standardize COVID-19 rules is a lost cause. Criticizing individual decisions to have, or not have gatherings based on data that’s continuously evolving is futile.
The prospect this spring of a return to normalcy once COVID-19 vaccines became available ended up being short-lived. There have been disappointments over all the things we still can’t do. But we’re the adults in the room now. We have to buck up and live with the situation we are in, while making the safe and responsible choices for ourselves and our own families.