“Panhandling” the Pandemic

The panhandle area has recently undergone a shelter-in-place act in order to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. With this new act, we as a community are finally following the guidelines that other states are practicing. 

Various Playgrounds have been shut off for public use. 

That means that we have closed non-essential businesses such as craft stores, malls, clothing outlet, churches, gun stores and abortion clinics. The city has also limited how many people can be out in public at a time, and grocery stores are controlling the influx of people coming to make sure that the building isn’t too crowded. However is it enough? 

According to an article by Amarillo news station, KFDA News Channel 10, the enforcement of this act will not be too strict. For now, people can travel freely without having to worry about being stopped by the law. The red flags that prompt them to stop you are having more than 10 people in the same public space at a time, or jumping on the playground equipment. At least no citations will be given unless the citizens who commit violations are being insubordinate. In addition, we are free to exercise and use the sidewalks without any worries.

Although these new policies are helping us combat COVID-19, they are not sustainable for us as a species because we are all social beings who like to work and be around our loved ones. We as Americans, especially Texans, are too stubborn to practice social distancing because most think COVID-19 is a hoax but the numbers say otherwise. 

Stores such as Wal-Mart have divided the entry ways and are regulating the amount of people are entering.

In the first two weeks of the coronavirus outbreak there were a total of 20 reported cases of the coronavirus in the area with one reported death. As of now, there are 129 reported cases of coronavirus with four deaths occurring. (The numbers for the Panhandle can be tracked here). There are many more to come, and there is still no legitimate explanation for the rapid spread of these viruses from local officials. According to local reports, the numbers are mostly increasing because of the availability of tests in the area, and there will be more to come.

Not only are the numbers of cases are rapidly spreading, but the fact that we have more numbers than what have been reported in El Paso (129) which is notable when you consider the populations of both areas. I’m going by the numbers reported in the 2010 census as El Paso has over 600,000 residents versus the panhandle area which has 200,000 less. 

This leads me to believe that no one really seems to care about social distancing. I heard stories about how people are abusing these rules. Apparently, kids are going in groups to the grocery store to buy one bag of candy. I get it, you don’t want to be inside all day without going out with your friends. However, you cannot afford to catch a disease all for a trivial errand while also putting other people at risk. Now I probably would be doing the same thing if I was a kid again, but still I wouldn’t know better. 

I hate to say it, but I think we need to go on lock-down to prevent people from getting even more sick. The laws we have in place are not enough to stop the spread, and I think we will do just that because our leaders will be pressured to take more actions. Now I do not want to take anything away from what they are doing because they respect our freedoms as they do theirs but we have to make sure people really do stay home. 

Now a two-week full lockdown would not be a bad idea so long as we have the proper way to go about it. I know people are going to freak out and probably raid the stores, but with the help of coordination from our local governments and businesses that could easily be prevented. As of now many businesses are practicing good means of social distancing by keeping track of how many people are in the store. With that being said, the local government needs to provide us a week to get ready for a lockdown. That way businesses can prepare for the influx of people that need to get their supplies ready for their homes. From there, we can initiate a two week lockdown that will leave truly essential businesses open. No more restaurants, drive-ins, state parks or any other non-essential businesses.