Now what?

July 6, 2020Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce

What a tough couple of weeks.

I wasn’t terribly surprised, unfortunately to see the uptick in virus cases. We knew we weren’t out of the woods yet, but the timing was unexpected. To me, anyway.

This Coronavirus thing has to be one of the toughest situations I’ve ever faced professionally. And dealing with it – on behalf of our members – is one of those “damned if you do…” things.

Here’s what I think I know for sure.

Nobody is particularly excited about the need to wear a mask.

Some people think the suggestion to mask up is to protect them. It isn’t. It’s to protect others.

Many believe that if they feel good, they’re good to go. The number of people who have the virus and don’t exhibit symptoms is surprising. And worrisome.

Some believe that if masses can protest, then somebody sounded the “all clear” siren.

We have citizens who believe that we’re being led, like sheep, into some massive revocation of our freedom and liberties.

The virus brings a very low death rate. But, how many are too many?

We have people who have turned “unmasking” into a movement.

However, we have medical professionals who aren’t a part of any conspiracy who think masking up is important.

The number of hospitalizations– along with capacity to treat those who need help – has been the concern all along.

We have a limited capacity to treat those who may require it.

And, due to our stellar job at “flattening the curve,” we’ve elongated the curve.

Me? I don’t see the big deal. Ultimately, if I can put my own feelings aside and wear a mask to help others feel more comfortable, I’m all in.

But here’s what keeps me up at night.

The potential to “shut ‘er all down again” is real. And if/when that happens, many of our members are – well – screwed. And so are their employees. And our economy. And understand, I’ve gotten up every morning for the last 35 years to help protect those things.

I get the whole “they’re taking away my freedom” thing. I really do. To me the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” (thanks for that one, mom). But that’s just me.

Like I said earlier in this article, this is super tough. I don’t want to encourage the imposition of anything on anyone that the person doesn’t support. And your Chamber – like me – encourages personal responsibility and individual choice.

If you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t. But for crying out loud if you don’t, stay out of other people’s personal space. Again, the mask isn’t about us, it’s about those around us. And their friends and family’s health. And their livelihoods. That part is kind of a big deal. I had a respected healthcare professional tell me last week that if I’m within 10 feet of another person for 10 minutes, that other person is essentially wearing and breathing everything about me. Hello.

Regardless of your stance on masking, know this – your Chamber is working on your behalf to find the balance that keeps your business open and our friends and families healthy. We aren’t thrilled about the masks, but understand the measure. When I look into the eyes of good friends who have pre-existing breathing challenges and see that hint of fear, I understand where they’re coming from. And it makes me worry for them.

Don’t want to wear a mask? I get it. I don’t blame you. I don’t want to either.

I do, though wear a mask, because it’s important to those around me.

Just wanted you to know where I’m coming from. Do what’s best for you and – those around you. And together, let’s get through this and get on to being the best Abilene we can be.




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