Every precaution against the virus saves lives

New restrictions on socioeconomic activities today Sunday emerge as an important test in the effort to contain the surge of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in Puerto Rico due to COVID-19 while avoiding deepening the economic and psychological effects of a major economic downturn.

The result of this sacrifice will depend on the level of individual and collective responsibility shown in these 24 hours in which citizen behavior will be evaluated. It is also necessary that the health authorities improve management efficiency.

It is up to the government to do its part by making tracing and isolation systems more efficient, an aspect that so far has not showed big progress, particularly regarding screening and tracing for travelers at the airport.

It is also important to ask for more caution and prevention at home, in neighborhoods, workplaces, and businesses, so that COVID-19 does not get out of control.

Currently, there are too many signs that we are heading for a significant increase in cases, so today's new restrictions should lead us to assume caution as an essential part of our routines.

From the beginning, we have argued that given our fragile health care structure we cannot afford a mass outbreak with hundreds or thousands of infected people.

Hospitals, a system that must properly prepare special facilities, would not cope with it. Neither would doctors, who are facing tensions and new situations, nor the nursing staff, who we know are limited and have not previously dealt with the demands of using negative pressure rooms and ventilators.

The increase in the curve in Puerto Rico coincides with relaxing the curfew and the reopening activities which, due to their consumption and socialization nature, result in people gathering and taking off their masks.

The probability of a slight upsurge when the island began to open was contemplated. But since it is not a slight increase and it raises concern in the scientific community, it is urgent to rethink our steps and identify where we have failed.

The behavior of some young people could be a factor. The number of people under 40 who are becoming infected has skyrocketed globally. As U.S. infectious disease chief Dr. Anthony Fauci explained many young people have the mistaken perception that the virus will not do them any harm.

On the other hand, those who are most at risk from the strong effects of the disease are older adults who live or socialize with young people who do not wear masks or follow social distancing measures.

This indicates that teenagers and young adults' parents or guardians should be aggressive in demanding what we know is a challenge in the middle of summer: that they keep their distance when they leave home or go to parties and avoid getting infected, for them and their loved ones.

Maturity must prevail in this challenge but also monitoring by those adults who allow meetings in their homes.

Puerto Rico, which was already in a difficult social and economic situation before the pandemic, is risking a lot in the fight against the virus. It is everyone´s responsibility, citizens, and government´s, to do their part so that we don´t suffer a large wave of contagion that would push the island into a social tragedy.

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