Neal Mug

Jeff Neal

Things are not nearly back to "normal."

But, perhaps for the first time in a long time, we can see a shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

The COVID-19 crisis is far from over. But, finally, there are some things opening up — with some limitations, of course.

Some of our friends who have been at home are going back to work. We can visit loved ones in the hospital again — under strict guidelines. We can eat in our favorite restaurants again — but with a limited capacity.

The City of Somerset Energy Center is open and so is the Pulaski County Courthouse.

Heck, hopefully in the next few days I’ll be able to get my corona hair under control. Fingers crossed.

These are all positive signs ... signs that, at some point down the road, we can be back to business as usual.

Through it all, our leaders at all levels — President Donald Trump, Gov. Andy Beshear, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck and Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley — have assured us this would happen.

Granted, those leaders I just mentioned might have differing outlooks on how and when things should reopen. But that doesn't mean they don't have a common goal — to get our country, our state and our community back to doing business, while staying as safe as possible in the process.

The important thing to remember as things begin to open up is that the threat of the coronavirus is still very real. Testing is more readily available now, but unfortunately a solid treatment plan for those infected is not. And a vaccine is further down the road.

This virus is strange and unpredictable. None of us want to catch it or see our family members suffering with it.

So, please, when you are out and about, be careful.

Social distancing should still be practiced. I know it’s difficult to see a friend or family member out and greet them with a wave from a few feet away rather than a handshake, a hug or a pat on the back. But, for now, that’s the way we should do things.

And what about these masks? I know — sometimes they just feel silly. And they can be uncomfortable.

But, remember, the masks are not for you ... they’re for the people around you.

One thing we do know about this virus is that you may more readily pass it to others long before you have symptoms. So, in reality, we should act in public like we’re infected even though we’re probably not.

So here is what I'm going to do: I'm going to wear a mask when it's appropriate to do so and I'm going to keep my distance from others as much as possible.

Of course, as I say this I know there are going to be people who simply don't want to be told they can't gather, or that they have to wear masks and they have absolutely no fear of catching the coronavirus.

We have to remember that even though we don't agree with the opinions of others around us, we should respect them. If you're wearing a mask, don't chastise someone who isn't. If you are not wearing a mask, don't look at a person who has one on like they have four heads.

If your neighbor is having an outdoor gathering, don't fuss or call the police. Do you really want to be THAT guy?

In your own way — be as safe as possible. And respect others who are dealing with this situation a little differently. It's as simple as that.

We did a great job in Kentucky flattening the curve and as a result we’re much more ready to “open” than other states who were more lax.

That's a fact.

I know there has been criticism of Beshear for being too heavy-handed with restrictions during this crisis. People are frustrated. I get it. But I think the guy deserves our thanks because he has made Kentucky a national leader in battling the effects of the coronavirus.

Now let’s step up and use our heads so we don’t see any kind of a spike with the gradual re-opening. For goodness sakes, we don't want any setbacks. We want to move forward.

If we keep playing it smart through the steps of re-opening, “normal” will be at the end of the journey.

JEFF NEAL is the Editor of the Commonwealth Journal. Reach him at jneal@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jnealCJ.

Recommended for you