It’s getting personal.

Actually, it’s always been personal, but it’s time to realize avoiding the coronavirus, and not spreading the virus, is mostly about personal choices.

When government leaders talk about making masks mandatory, limiting large-group activities, or not reopening schools, people go crazy with emotional outbursts, public pleas, and even threats. The arguments get a little crazy, too.

We, the people, don’t like others telling us what we must do or must not do. Understood. So here’s the simple answer: behave responsibly. Sound naïve? Maybe, but there a lot of truth in the saying: “Every right has its responsibilities.”

So, what is “responsible behavior” in this pandemic-riddled world? It depends. Some people can afford to take a little more risk, at least if the benefit is great enough. Others cannot.

That’s why it is difficult for a president, governor, mayor, school board or even church trustees to say “this is what everyone must do.” One rule doesn’t fit all situations across the board. So in the weeks and months ahead, we’ll see a patchwork of solutions, a variety of answers, as schools, sports and activities resume.

Yes, schools should reopen, but with various protocols in place to minimize risk of a large-scale spread of disease. Minimize risk, you cannot eliminate risk. Procedures won’t look the same in all situations because what’s reasonable and prudent will vary by the age of students and by the amount of COVID-19 already in the community. In almost all circumstances, lower-risk options should be available.

One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of giving or getting COVID-19 is to wear a mask when around other people out in public. A second obvious answer is to keep a “social distance” of 6 feet away from others whenever possible. Reasonable people should practice these responsible behaviors in almost all situations. It’s a matter of personal responsibility — for your health and the health of other people around you. It should not require a state law or city ordinance.

Respect yourself and the others around you enough to behave responsibly. Make it a personal commitment.

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