From the quiet hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
Labor Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, because it signals the end of summer and the beginning of football season, otherwise known as fall.
There is still plenty of heat and humidity over the Labor Day weekend. But somehow barbecue in the back yard takes on a little extra flavor, knowing that cooler weather is just around the corner.
This year, we all have to take extra precautions during our backyard gatherings. The Covid-19 virus will not be taking a holiday, so please remember to wear your masks and maintain safe distances.
About two weeks ago, President Trump’s top coronavirus adviser came to Arkansas. Her name is Dr. Debora Birx, and she works with the President every day to coordinate the national response to the coronavirus.
When she came to Arkansas, she was very specific about what is driving the spread of the virus – friends and families holding parties.
What happens is that people get together at someone’s house or backyard, and the masks tend to come off because everyone knows everyone.
It’s not bars and restaurants, she said, it’s family gatherings and friendly get-togethers.
Standing next to Governor Hutchinson at his daily briefing, here is what Dr. Birx said, and this is a direct quote:
"We're finding that the majority of community spread right now is happening from parties, either indoors or outdoor . . . If you go to a party and you have an older grandmother or relative or aunt recovering from cancer, please wear a mask."
We tend to let our guard down when we’re around the people we love, and that’s when the virus is allowed to spread.
Keeping our guard up is especially critical because many children have just finished up their first couple of weeks in school.
If we want the school year to continue as planned, we have to bite the bullet now and take the advice of the doctors and health professionals.
This is not a political issue. As I mentioned earlier, Dr. Birx is the top coronavirus adviser to President Trump.
The top coronavirus adviser in Arkansas is Dr. Jose Romero, the director of the state Health Department. Alongside the governor, he repeated previous warnings about letting our guard down, with the school year just beginning.
For example, the Health Department recently tested 75 students at the University of Arkansas. Twenty-five students, a third of them, tested positive.
“That is an alarming amount,” Dr. Romero said.
We are getting a handle on the spread of the virus, but it takes time and it takes commitment.
Over the past weekend, for example, Arkansas went from 838 new cases reported on Friday to 478 new cases. That is real progress, and it is critical to maintain that level of progress in order to make this school year a success.
So when you get together with friends and family over the Labor Day weekend, please remember to follow safety precautions.
You can still enjoy the fellowship and the fun, if you keep in mind that we are all in this together. And remember too, that just like football weather, better days are just around the corner.
From the Capitol, it is always my greatest honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Senator Keith Ingram.
Listen to the complete address below: