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Northwest Lower Mich. became a pandemic relief valve

We won’t know for days, maybe weeks, whether Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s regional approach to lifting her stay at home order was a success.

The surge of vacationers into our backyard was somewhat predictable, effectively turning northern Michigan into a spillway for pent-up energy accrued during two months of lockdown orders. The holiday weekend felt like a partial shift toward normal — slow when compared to typical Memorial Day weekends, but an exponential increase in visitors compared to a week ago.

Beachgoers, bicyclists, boaters. Downtown walkers, woodland wanderers, wake riders.

The sights and sounds were a welcome reprieve from the eerie quiet that cinched around our home for the past few months.

Yet, our optimism was dashed by a dose or important reality in the midst of the sun-soaked euphoria so many of us felt during the summer kickoff weekend.

News of two out-of-state travelers who carried with them active COVID-19 infections broke midday Monday.

The incident is a caricature of warnings public health officials lobbed in the days before the big weekend reopen. Now, at least six other people will undergo 14-day self quarantine.

It’s a predictable — maybe expected — occurrence as our state and nation begin to relax restrictions on our movement. We all probably hoped for an uneventful weekend, a bit of a return to normal. But our expectations can’t be unrealistic considering the Grand Traverse region’s the noticeable surge of visitors into our backyard.

We continue to hear from business owners and public officials who find themselves a little frustrated at flippant visitors who bucked the guidelines meant to help tamp down the chances of a regional outbreak of the coronavirus.

They’re correctly worried that lax behavior now could result in reinstitution of the more oppressive measures included in the stay at home order still in place in more than half of Michigan.

Meanwhile efforts to increase the number of COVID-19 tests administered in the area likely will push up positive test result tallies as health officials cast a wider net in search of the disease.

The taste of normal we experienced last weekend was pretty darn refreshing.

So please join us in redoubling our efforts to tamp down the spread of the coronavirus in the Grand Traverse region.

After all, we don’t want to lose the freedom we worked so hard to regain.

— Traverse City Record-Eagle

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