For the last seven months, ever since COVID-19 first came here, I have watched as positive attitudes in and around Fairfield have slowly crumbled. Folks that would have driven across town to go to church, shop, or just say “Hi,” to a friend, are now terrified to leave their homes. We are bombarded every day, almost hourly with the positivity count and the number of active cases in our state and across the nation. There is not even relief with local media as we read and hear about cases “soaring” almost every day. Technically, this is true. It is also a fact that the recovery rate for this “virus” is over 97 percent, but that little tidbit has been almost left out of the media completely.

I am not trying to make light of what is a serious situation. I know that several people have become very sick and my thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones. However, I know of many people who are suffering far more than they ever would with the virus because they have been isolated from their families for months. Their mental anguish won’t heal quickly. That is a fact.

 Our town has taken a major hit. All of the events that bring folks in from out of town have been cancelled. The business district, which pays the majority of the taxes and utilities to the city, is trying to figure out how to keep going when shoppers are no longer coming in. The survival of many of our local businesses hangs in the balance. These are the facts too.

Here is something else to consider. Wayne County has well over 13,000 residents. 1,300 folks would have to get the virus, before we had a positivity rate of 1 percent. Just let that sink in. Additionally, the math is basically the same for all of our surrounding counties. The infection rate for each one is around one percent of the total population. If we really want to go a step further, we could say that since this started in January, a little over 6 and a half million folks in this country have tested positive. That is 1.9 percent of our total population. Of those, almost four million have fully recovered. This number however, is probably much higher though, because many states, Illinois included, haven’t reported recovered cases to the CDC website. By the way, COVID-19 is rated as the 43rd most deadly disease in the world.

 We have talked to people who have been told they have a “probable” case of the virus. These people were counted as positive by the health department. When their tests came back negative, the results were not changed. While I am not here to discount the job done by our local health officials, all of the conflicting information out there does make a person wonder.

I am sure that the health officials in our area have our best interests at heart, but according to USA Today, county health departments and local hospitals are being compensated by the federal government to handle COVID cases. The amount of money depends on the size of the area and its positivity rate. The higher the rate, the more money received. If people are admitted to the hospital for care, more money is received. This would seem to be a major benefit for struggling communities like ours. I would like to hear our officials address some of these issues.

I am extremely grateful that the actual “virus” hasn’t been worse here. God has blessed us with that. That being said, however, there is not a single individual in the country that hasn’t been impacted. In that sense all of us have experienced COVID-19. What I would like to know is when we will be able to stay home when we are sick and go back to work and school when we are better without quarantining for weeks? When will things just be normal not “a new normal?”

I commend our local educators and health care workers who are trying to make sense of the ever-changing requirements and regulations impressed upon them. The actual folks who do the work just have to follow the rules that have been set for them. We applaud them for their perseverance!

The rest of us are just trying to get by the best we can, but I will say this. Every day my sister and I get up, and go to work. We try to make our shop an encouraging environment for all. We try to lift up every customer who comes through the door. We listen to their concerns. We try to help those who are afraid. We go home and pray that soon this will be over. Then we get up the next day and do the whole thing all over again. Sometimes trying to be a voice of reason in a world gone mad really sucks. 

-Jami Roethe, Fairfield