Message from Mayor Fischer
Op-ed originally published in the Courier Journal on April 1, 2020:
By Mayor Greg Fischer
Young people playing pick-up basketball in a city park. Parents and kids gathering at a playground. A mixed-doubles tennis match among friends.
At almost any other moment in our city’s history, scenes like these would be heartwarming, life-affirming. These are, in fact, the kind of scenes that 5,500 Metro Government public servants spend their working lives trying to make possible.
But with a deadly infectious disease spreading throughout our community and the world, scenes of casual social gatherings are troubling, frightening and even infuriating. Because today, these gatherings and the massive disease spread they represent, can serve as a precursor to needless suffering and death, as well as an indicator of how many people in our city still don’t understand the dangers of COVID-19.
To be clear, since this crisis began, we’ve seen many great examples of Louisvillians staying home and practicing social distancing, as well as demonstrating great acts of compassion by donating money, time and energy to help others.
But we’ve also seen too many people either not understanding or not caring about their role to safeguard themselves, their family and friends, and the community. They show this when they disregard the orders issued by my office and by Gov. Beshear to avoid gathering in large groups and to avoid closed-off public spaces for group activities like soccer and basketball.
These orders were made to slow the spread COVID-19. The disease is spreading rapidly throughout our country, which now has more cases than anywhere else on Earth. It’s created horrific scenes around the globe — hospitals without enough medicine, equipment or space to treat their patients, protect their staff, house the sick or even store the bodies of the dead.
We cannot allow that to happen in Louisville.
COVID-19 spreads among people who may not even know they have the virus and who may not develop symptoms for up to two weeks. Social distancing is the practice of staying home as much as possible and maintaining six feet of distance between yourself and others when you’re in public.
Research indicates that with no social distancing, one infected person could cause the infection of more than 400 other people within a month. With social distancing in place, that number falls to about three additional people infected in a month.
One reason for the disease’s current high rate of growth is that too many people are still getting together for everything from play dates to house parties, from group golf outings to large gatherings in parks to an event last weekend when hundreds gathered for an illegal street race.
We can win the fight against COVID-19 if we have the support and participation of everyone who calls Louisville home. Here are some specific things you can do:
What parents can do
Keep your kids at home. I know this is a difficult time for families. And as the father of four grown children, I know that as our kids get older, the parent-child dynamic can change, becoming less about parental authority and more about negotiation. But whatever influence you have over your kids, now is the time to use it. They are literally risking your life and the lives of others every time they go out, gather in groups and return home.
For teens and young adults
Understand that this disease can affect you, too. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 were between the ages of 20-44. In addition, even those young people who suffer milder symptoms have the potential to spread the disease to others who are at much greater health risk, including older relatives or people with underlying health conditions.
Stay home — as much as possible.
Of course, we understand that it’s sometimes necessary to leave home to get food, medicine or other supplies, to see your doctor, care for a relative, and, for some, to do essential work. And it’s always a good idea to get outside some for exercise and for our mental health. But outside the home, it’s essential to practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from other people.
Human beings are social creatures. We are drawn to each other. That’s why cities were founded in the first place. But for the health of our city and our fellow citizens, we have to find other ways to connect for the time being.
Video chatting. Messaging. Email. The phone. Technology provides us with ways to stay home, stay safe and stay connected at the same time.
The COVID-19 challenge is temporary. Just how temporary and how devastating it will be is up to each of us to determine. We all have a choice to make in how we respond to this moment. Let’s accept the reality of the challenge we’re facing and do what it takes to protect ourselves and each other. For now, we are better together by staying apart.
Please, stay home.