Given the uncertainty surrounding both the financial situation and the direction that the COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately take, Sen. William Brownsberger said reopening the economy must be undertaken with caution and in incremental steps.
“We have to make decisions on conditions in the face of great uncertainty, both in terms of the virus situation and the economic situation,” Sen. Brownsberger said. “In reopening the economy, everyone must go slowly and modestly, and take the situation step by step.”
While what causes transmission rates to rise remains unknown, Sen. Brownsberger believes the virus can’t be completely contained through self-isolation and testing, which he said isn’t at the level it should be now.
Besides the physical capacity for testing in the Commonwealth not being able to meet the current demand, Sen. Brownsberger also pointed to the potentially large number of asymptomatic carriers who could now have the virus and be unwittingly spreading it to others.
“People who don’t know they have it are roaming around spreading the virus,” he said. “There’s a lot of virus out there now, and if we allow people to have contact, transmissions will go up, but we can’t know by how much.”
Sen. Brownsberger cited the recent statistic that 10 percent of Boston residents might have already been exposed to COVID-19.
“But what about the 90 percent not exposed?” he asked. “That’s a whole lot of virgin territory for the virus to go wild in so we have to be very vigilant moving forward.”
Sen. Brownsberger also believes more data should be collected and carefully analyzed as more businesses reopen.
“We have to make modest adjustments and look at all the data we can,” he said, “and we have to preserve sanitation measures as we get out going to some work places.”
As more people return to work, Sen. Brownsberger said they still must maintain social distancing and other safety measures to help contain transmission rates.
“Given our inability to test and track everyone, we have to be zealous about social distancing as we return to work in some places,” he said. “We’ll have to keep wearing masks, regularly washing our hands and distancing from each other at work.”
But despite the necessity, Sen. Brownsberger admits adhering to this safety protocol can seem counterintuitive at times.
“Wearing a mask takes a whole lot to get used to, and there’s a natural desire to go in for a hug, which isn’t something we can do now,” he said. “These things aren’t second nature to all of us.”
Yet Sen. Brownsberger doesn’t expect this will change anytime soon.
“I think it’s entirely likely that we’re going to have different lifestyles and engage in different ways for months if not years,” he said.