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There’s no playbook on handling a pandemic that is costing lives and livelihoods

In his televised question and answer session Wednesday, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. laid out the ground rules by which restaurants, salons and barbershops would need to operate under when — and only when — they were allowed to reopen.

Through the list of guidelines and directives, one thing became increasingly clear; no matter how well planned the reopening of our economy is, there will be hiccups, speed bumps and the occasional misstep.

No one has seen anything like this before. We have never seen our economy — our entire economy — come to a screeching halt.

There have been sectors that have slowed before. There have been regions of our country that have slowed before. There have even been nationwide economic slowdowns that have caused higher unemployment, inflation and recession.

But no one has ever seen such an event on a global scale. For anyone to think there is a playbook, a set of instructions or the foresight to know how to restart the economy in a way that protects both lives and livelihoods, they are gravely mistaken.

Friday alone showed just how much we do not know.

What began as a day that many thought would see Gov. Tate Reeves begin to remove significant restrictions on his shelter-in-place order, ended with the governor letting his sheorder expire, replacing it with a “Safer at Home” order which contained most of the previous order’s restrictions, albeit minor changes, though at least May 11.

That decision had a ripple effect to the city of Vicksburg, where Flaggs announced late Friday he would follow the governor’s lead and extend many of the restrictions to May 11. As Flaggs has said before, he does not have the authority to do anything other than follow the lead of state and federal officials.

All of this is to say that no one knows if and when restrictions will be lifted. No one knows when the cases of COVID-19 will begin to drastically decline, rather than inch higher and higher.

We do know that progress has been made. We do know there is a desperate push and need to restart the economy. What we also know is that no one knows the best way or the correct answer on how to make that happen successfully.