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After a few months of living with COVID-19, Pinal County, Arizona and much of the nation are gradually reopening and seeking to return to something more like normal. That has produced an uptick in coronavirus cases, and authorities have gotten more serious about rules seeking to control the spread. This obviously is the new normal, at least for now, because shutting down again really is not an option.

The initial shutdown did help to slow the spread and allowed experts to learn and prepare. Hospitals geared up to handle the cases. Partially because of the limits that were imposed, many of them voluntary, most hospitals were not overwhelmed. Some models for the pandemic, especially those involving deaths, were vastly overstated.

Now Gov. Doug Ducey has allowed local jurisdictions to require masks in public places, including private businesses. Casa Grande and other cities acted quickly to impose the rule. Some of them are taking a more voluntary approach. Strict enforcement of this rule is impossible, and much of that is left to public image and common sense. Many Americans, already tired of restrictions, are rebelling. But many others are following the orders and helping to slow the disease.

Meanwhile, stopping COVID-19 is impossible without a vaccine. Hopefully, there will be one. Some indications exist that it could come within months. We hope it does.

For now, people need to protect themselves and others. Ultimately, absent a vaccine, many Americans are going to get COVID-19. The highest priority should be on protecting the most vulnerable. However, this disease is unpredictable. Some of the people severely impacted and dying are not the elderly and those who might have seemed vulnerable. Others can be asymptomatic carriers. That is why everyone should do their part.

America needs to be at work and school and have at least some of its sports and recreation activities. The long-term alternative would be devastating. In the meantime, the increased precautions are in order.

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