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CHANGE OF MINDSET: FROM FEAR TO FORTITUDE
By: Eleanor Valeros, Lianne Llesol | Published Saturday, May 16, 2020

Starting May 20, Cebu Province will transition from Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) to General Community Quarantine (GCQ), lifting some of the currently implemented restrictions.

While some Cebuanos in the province may let out a sigh of relief with this development, others could still be afraid and anxious that this would be an opportunity for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) to spread in the towns and cities, especially since Metro Cebu areas still record new cases each day.

However, when Governor Gwendolyn Garcia looked at the number of deaths vis-à-vis the population, she found out that the ratio is relatively small. 

“I would want to look at the Covid-19 pandemic the other way,” she said in the May 15 Consultation Meeting with mayors in Balamban.

Of course, one death is “one death too much,” she pointed out. But leaders must be able to have a sense of perspective about Covid-19 because if not, then they might not be able to decide wisely for their constituents.

The governor stressed that the ECQ can’t go on forever. The economy bleeds and the most hit are the informal workers. 

For four months, the local government units in Cebu have not pursued any of the planned projects and programs because all the efforts were shifted to monitoring and contact tracing. 

Businesses are struggling due to temporary closures, manpower limitations, and other restrictions. Stay-at-home orders have kept most of the citizens, especially those from the informal sector, from earning a living.

So Garcia emphatically asked, “is it worth it?”

She stated that eight deaths, as of May 14, in Cebu Province’s population of 3.226 million is actually three deaths per one million people.

“Data show us that the Province marks a low mortality. You cannot question the figures. I’m just asking because I decided to study the figures. You have to sift through these, the incontrovertible truths that figures don’t lie,” the governor stressed.

Moreover, she underscored that Cebu Province shifts not just to GCQ but to Enhanced Countryside Development (ECD) which seeks the enhancement of agribusiness, pushing it to boost local economy and achieve self-sufficiency.

“We will be transitioning from ECQ to ECD which encourages a plan with emphasis on the enhancement of the agricultural capacity of the different local government units in order for them to be self-sufficient,” Garcia said.
 
“It’s about time that we resuscitate our struggling economy and take steps to improve the lives of people that are now suffering because of this [Covid-19 pandemic]," she added.

The GCQ, though, doesn’t mean everyone’s lives will go back to the way it was. Garcia emphasized in many occasions that life after COVID-19 will be a “new normal” for everyone.

“We have to accept that the old normal is gone so we can adjust and adapt to a whole new world,” she emphasized.

Like ECQ, stay-at-home orders will still be in place, except for those workers included in the list of exemptions. Public health protocols such as wearing of face masks in public, social distancing measures, and temperature checks will remain.

While public transportation and businesses will be partially opened, amusement-related establishments and leisure activities are still not allowed.

Much like how Cebu Province gradually closed off its borders from the outside world, opening them back must be done slowly as well to ensure that the virus stays out of its towns and cities. (Eleanor Valeros and Lianne Llesol)