Since the lockdown orders of a year ago, Americans have made enormous sacrifices, complying with government guidance on masking and social distancing in hope of bringing about the trends we are finally seeing. Covid cases and hospitalizations are falling, and according to the White House, a majority of elderly Americans have received at least one shot of the several vaccines that are now available. Nursing-home deaths have dropped to levels not seen since spring 2020. Businesses are reopening. Grandparents are hugging their grandchildren again. The pandemic isn’t over, but people correctly sense the danger is declining. They want more of their regular lives back.
Federal, state and local officials need to develop public-health guidance that smooths the way back to normal. We can’t lean too far forward, risking a fourth wave of hospitalizations and deaths. But we also can’t lean too far in the other direction, with overly restrictive measures that people will ignore. Effective leadership means finding a middle path.
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