The sky looks gloomy overhead. The air is thick with fear. The wind blows puffs of trepidation, and the final decision hangs in the balance. As we watch the news daily, we are bombarded with the daunting and steady increase of new cases of COVID-19. It’s a rather scary phenomenon that tells a tale of a reckless July! The country had a month off, and now the results are in. We are in a headwind against a growing number of COVID-19 cases and, by all preliminary indications, we are losing and losing terribly.
Did we get too comfortable? Did we get too lax? Where did we drop the ball? These are all the questions running through the minds of the populace as we indefatigably try to take on this task.
And as we watch in utter dread and dismay, it is becoming more and more apparent to us that a lockdown may be imminent. But the truth of the matter is, can we in good reason afford another lockdown? Will it sink a ship that is already struggling to bail out water?
Let us consider: when COVID-19 was first introduced to Belize, the leaders instituted a lockdown almost instantaneously. It definitely worked and helped to contain the virus, control its spread and mitigate the amount of cases that could have been produced. In regards to COVID-19, the lockdown was a laudable success.
However, while it triumphed over the virus, it crushed the economy, rendering it ventilator-dependent and on life support.
Even after the reopening, and the movement and shuffling around town, the economy still hasn’t been able to regain the traction it had and garner the boost that it so badly and desperately needed.
And thus, as a consequence, like the poor and lower middle class, the country found itself in a rather unique position: living hand-to-mouth and barely being able to meet its needs and expenditures.
So now, as we await the next step and anticipate the possibility of another lockdown, one must ask the question: can we afford it?
Realistically, the simple answer is no. While effecting a lockdown may certainly aid in the controlling and mitigation of the virus COVID-19, it will run the economy aground and render many persons and households unable to even provide food on the table.
Therefore, in concluding, the virus is upon us. It is understood that important decisions will be made and drastic measures will have to be taken. However, it is rather imperative that we consider the cost and weigh the options.
Ask yourself: is it prudent to run your economy aground and crash it all together? If the already ailing economy crashes, how will we resuscitate it? With the little that the masses of our people are already surviving upon, should we render them without? Leaving them further broken, dejected, indigent and perhaps even hungry or starving?
A decision has to be made and is imminent, but we need to keep a balanced view — with a focus on both the COVID-19 reality and the needs of our people.
Do we adhere to safety measures, health best practices and advice from the professionals and combat this virus and keep it at bay? Or do we, in a Draconian show of force, lock it all down, crash our economy and render our people teetering on the brink of starvation?
Let’s hope and pray for the best, stand strong and hold firm and remember that we are all in this together.
God Bless Belize!
Rudolph A. Neal