COVID-19 is the thing people most fear. On the other hand, the real damage to most lives is, ironically, coming from efforts to fight the virus.

Jobs have vanished. Businesses are being crushed. Retirement savings are dwindling. The quality of life is being diminished.

Today’s fears stem mainly from a forecast out of the University of Washington earlier in the year. They said 2 million people could die and our medical system would be totally swamped. This frightening forecast initially justified governments at all levels demanding huge sacrifices in the private sector to mitigate the impending disaster.

So far, the virus has been bad, but not nearly as bad as predicted. The initial forecast was clearly way overblown, even if one accounts for the impact of government actions.

The mindset created by the forecast still controls many officials’ thinking, particularly at the town level. Federal officials have recognized that the harmful consequences of fighting the virus must themselves be mitigated. Our governor is timidly moving in that direction as well.

Some town governments are still in full, consequences-be-damned virus-fighting mode. They seem oblivious to the harm they are causing.

The town fathers of Bethany Beach have apparently decided it needs to stop being a resort. They are actively keeping people away. Will they next take a flamethrower to the flowers?

When it comes to virus-related decisions, our towns have too often been in shutdown mode. It’s easy to just shut things down, if you don’t give much weight to the harm done. Decisions have too often come from a marriage between expediency and a lack of imagination.

The governor’s mandates have treated our area the same as the virus hotspots. This has meant overkill for us.

State mandates are a major reason jobs have vanished here and businesses are being crushed. Unfortunately, although our local officials could have acted to offset some of the harm, they have only piled on. I believe their actions have done more harm than good.

One might hope local officials will come to recognize a few things. For example: UV rays kill the virus in 60 seconds. People are adjusting their behavior on their own. Our towns are resort communities. The commercial infrastructure is being crippled.

Finally, Bethany Beach is the hub of the area. A Bethany Beach that stops being a resort makes everything from Dewey to Ocean City a little less attractive.

The simple solution is for our local governments to just let the State and feds do the virus-fighting. The locals should undo everything not required by the State or feds, and then do no more.

They should cut people a break and take some time off.

Kent Stephan

South Bethany