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‘I regret that I only have one life to shelter-in-place . . .’

It appears we have reached a tipping point in the COVID-19 pandemic.

No. Not a tipping point in the number of COVID-19 cases being reported but a tipping point in people’s tolerance for sheltering-in-place.

People are taking to the streets in many cities to demand they be allowed to congregate and reopen businesses per their first amendment rights.

Yes, the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives us the freedom to peaceably assemble, and many leaders who have put executive orders in place curtailing those rights have said they cannot or will not enforce those orders due to people’s Constitutional rights.

I saw a picture of one of the protesters carrying a sign that read, “Give me liberty or give me COVID-19!” Kind of clever, I have to admit.

The sign was being carried by a young man, who probably has the odds of surviving COVID-19 in his favor were he to be exposed to the virus.

The problem with his logic and the logic of many of the people who are protesting and demanding to be able to congregate is that if they get the virus, they may not be affected by it but they would be carriers who could in turn potentially spread the virus to untold numbers of people, many of whom may not be able to survive the virus.

Some leaders who support the protesters have even suggested any loss of life from ending the stay-at-home orders may be a worthy trade off to get the economy back on its feet.

That’s a pretty bold claim to make, and I assume the elected officials who made that claim are assuming they would be able to survive exposure to COVID-19.

What about their loved ones, though? What about their mothers and fathers? Would getting businesses back open be worth giving up their parents’ lives? How about their children? How about the legions of healthcare workers who are putting their lives on the line to save COVID-19 patients’ lives? Are any of those lives worth giving up to go ahead and open up businesses?

We already know the protesters’ stances on the issue. They are already out there, gathering in groups and mixing it up. They’ve even been likening their civil disobedience to that of Rosa Parks. It is only a matter of time before they actually take their civil disobedience to the full effect and go back to business as usual.

After all, it is their Constitutional right.

Our Constitutional rights, however, come with restrictions for the greater good of the society. Freedom of speech does not entitle you to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theatre and your second amendment right does not entitle you to gun down innocent people. It is part of the social contract to which we adhere to be functioning members of civil society.

Gambling with ending the quarantine too early could lead to a growth in COVID-19 infection numbers and overcrowd hospitals forcing even more Draconian measures to try to bring the infection rate back down and thus prolonging the effects of the pandemic on society.

We are too close now to give up because some agitators are too self-centered and too shortsighted to wait it out a few more weeks.

Sheltering-in-place is having the desired affect and keeping the numbers from growing too fast for the hospitals to handle.

Just because protesters can break the quarantine does not mean they should break the quarantine.

We shelter-in-place to be good citizens and to keep the social contract that ensures we all have a chance to continue practicing our Constitutional rights.

I follow the shelter-in-place rule not only to protect myself but also to protect my fellow man and to help preserve our nation and, therefore, our Constitutional rights.

I regret that I only have one life to shelter-in-place for my country.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com or 601-445-3540.