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With freedom comes great responsibility

On Saturday we will celebrate our nation’s independence.

In the Miss-Lou that means boat parades, cookouts, fireworks shows and lounging by the pool or favorite swimming hole.

We have thought a lot about our freedoms as Americans in recent months as we have endured weeks of shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sure we have the right to assemble peacefully, go where we please when we please and to worship when and where we please but as the insidious COVID-19 pandemic has shown our freedoms can have repercussions.

COVID-19 can be carried and passed by someone who is asymptomatic for weeks before they may realize they have the disease and by that time it is too late because they could have spread the disease to other people everywhere they went for the past few weeks.

Early on in the pandemic government officials encouraged shutting down certain businesses, events and gatherings of more than 10 people and most people were compliant. However, many people decried their loss of freedoms and demanded that the government not restrict their actions.

Granted, the cost of the shutdowns was enormous to businesses and individuals who lost revenue due to the shutdown and therefore the governments eventually relaxed regulations, saying the costs to the economy were too steep.

Now a few weeks later we are paying the price of relaxing those regulations in large spikes in new coronavirus cases nationwide, including in Mississippi which saw the nation’s fastest growth in new COVID-19 cases with a 278% increase in the seven-day period from June 21-27.

That is alarming to say the least. The cost of freedom is indeed steep.

It looks unlikely governments will reinstate drastic shutdown measures that were in place early on in the pandemic so that means we all have to exercise our freedoms with caution. With freedom comes great responsibility, to steal a phrase from the Spiderman comic series.

We must be vigilant as we go about our lives exercising our freedoms not only during this Fourth of July weekend but also beyond.

Sure we are free not to wear face masks and to gather in groups but we must be aware that those actions have consequences.

Medical professionals tell us the best thing we can do to help curtail the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a face mask when we are in public, but we also should maintain a safe distance from others.

If you are someone who has a heightened risk of getting COVID-19, including being a senior citizen or having underlying health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes or immune deficiencies, you should take even more precautions.

Like it or not, COVID-19 is a serious threat and the numbers are on the rise again because of our actions over the past few weeks.

Wear you mask in public, wash your hands frequently, don’t touch your face, keep your distance from others and let’s put a stop to this spike in cases before it gets out of hand.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.