Science needs to be behind COVID-19 decisions

Says Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce

As leaders of the Bainbridge Islander Chamber of Commerce, we are all too aware of how COVID-19 has significantly impacted both our personal lives and our member businesses and organizations in very real and tangible ways across all sectors of our community.

Our mission as a nonprofit corporation is to help our 511-plus members survive the pandemic and to reopen safely when we are permitted to do so, with the health and safety of our community as our foremost concern.

In our view, minimizing the economic damage of the pandemic is best achieved by controlling the spread of the virus. We can and will persevere in the battle to overcome COVID-19, but how long and hazardous that road may be is influenced by the approach that we take.

Most of us know that the fastest path to recovery lies in our alignment with certain best practices, yet there persists an element whose opinions about the origins, management, virility and even the very existence of this disease run counter to what credible science would indicate.

Such opinions are a danger to the health of our citizens and our economy.

As an organization whose express mission is to support the health and vitality of our local economy, we feel it is incumbent upon us to communicate our position on these matters:

First and foremost, we believe in science. That is, objective, testable reality provides the best source of real information that can be used to contain the virus and beat the disease. One does not need to look far to see examples of instances where turning away from science has resulted in loss of life and erosion of the academic community upon which we all rely, especially in times like these.

Second, we respect the opinions of the medical professionals and policymakers who represent our county, state and national health institutions. These are the people who have been trained for this situation and have the thankless job of telling us news we would rather not hear; it is our job to listen.

Third, we do not support the politicization of the coronavirus pandemic. We believe that such action hinders effective and appropriate response to the situation, worsening and lengthening the path to recovery. A pandemic is not just about a disease, it is about human behavior.

How we choose to conduct ourselves during these challenging times is at least as important as the treatment of the disease itself. It is vitally important that we support unity in the effort to manage the pandemic and turn away from misinformation that is, at best, a distraction and, at worst, malicious.

There is much still to be understood about the coronavirus and what we learn in the future may inform us to take a different approach to keeping our community safe than the one we are dealing with today, but any direction we take must be informed by reason rather than partisanship, and supported by sound scientific and medical principles.

Matt Albee, chairman of the board.