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Unfortunately, we’ve been here before — staring down another round of COVID-19 restrictions.

On Sunday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced restrictions to help slow the resurgence of COVID-19 in our communities and across the state.

The restrictions are similar to what we saw in the spring — closure of indoor dining and bars — but add a new restriction with limiting grocery stores to 25% capacity.

Another difference, though, is schools that have returned to in-classroom instruction (typically a hybrid schedule) will be allowed to continue with in-classroom instruction.

Perhaps the biggest difference, though, is the lack of financial assistance currently available — such as the federally enhanced unemployment payment.

Combining the timing of coming into the holidays, with the extended period of reduced revenues for businesses since March, the arrival of winter and its higher heating bills and the lack of a government aid package — this round of COVID-19 restrictions could prove more painful and damaging than those in the spring.

If a worker had a bit in the bank last spring that helped survive the loss or reduction in wages, chances are the cushion is gone in November.

On top of this, we basically have a non-functional federal government at this moment. Congress did not approve another round of COVID assistance prior to the general election. The history of measures getting through a lame-duck Congress is not promising. Our current president is fixated on pursing a fantasy narrative in which he holds on to his office. D.C. seems ill-equipped to rise up to the challenge of this moment.

As it has been from day one, the success or failure with slowing the spread of the pandemic rests with each of us and the decisions we make. This is not a bad thing. If the choice is trusting a politician to do the right thing, and trusting yourself to do the right thing, you should always bet on yourself.

Do we wear a mask? Do we physically distance? Do we wash our hands frequently? Do we refrain from family and social gatherings? Do we understand that our behavior can negatively and seriously impact the health of others?

If we answer yes to all those questions we slow the spread. If the answer is no, we see the consequences.

There are cries of “big brother” and “government overreach,” but in Kittitas County the COVID “rules” have not been enforced by law enforcement. From the get-go, the phrase has been “enforcement through education,” which in essence means we’re on the honor system. Although, the state Department of Labor and Industries will investigate complaints and issue fines.

The main hurdle to slowing the spread has been the politicization of mask wearing. Now that the presidential race is over, and it is over and decided, maybe we can get past that and realize mask wearing is purely a public health issue.

If you’re looking for encouragement to suck it up through this stretch, be cheered by the announcements of advancements in COVID vaccine trials. The news has been remarkable, but even up the best-case scenarios the vaccine rollout will be a gradual process with high-risk groups the first in line.

We can get through this if we support each other and we behave as if we do not want our family, friends, coworkers and neighbors to get sick.

It is on us, but then, it always has been.


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