“Yes”, boomed the voice of the governor of Ohio over CNN. “We’ve got this monster down on the mat.”

The amazed newscaster said, “You certainly sound confident!”

“Well, yes”, he said. “But down on the mat doesn’t mean game over. We’ve got him down on the mat. If we turn and walk away, he’ll spring back to life.”

The rest of the news story involved the extraordinary early interventions of this governor and some of the mayors in that state. For instance, the mayor of Cincinnati and the governor canceled one huge event expected to bring in 60,000 people from all over the world in early March, before Ohio had even one case of COVID-19. This while hordes of American college students cavorted around the beaches of Florida over spring break, without a care in the world.

Then we had Trump envisioning a beautiful Easter with the newly freed population pouring into churches to give thanks. Fortunately, that plan didn’t last too long.

Our own situation is of course quite different from that of the U.S. and Puerto Princesa is very different from Manila. But we need to watch and learn from the experience of all countries.

Yesterday we heard of a man who presented at ONP with the symptoms of pneumonia and heart problems. Doctors asked him to be tested for COVID and perhaps isolated. He refused and left the hospital. But a few days later he died.

Now, this doesn’t make him positive. But he certainly should have been tested. I am wondering why he refused, and think it likely that he was afraid it would be expensive. Under such circumstances, are the tests not free? If yes, did the patient know this? Free and maybe compulsory testing under such circumstances might help us all stay safer.

We have not had much evidence of COVID here in Puerto Princesa, and I know many people are beginning to feel more relaxed about the situation. After all, we’ve been locked down for three weeks. It looks like we don’t have people flooding into the three hospitals. But we don’t really know what is happening in the community. Are there more people sick? Have more people died of unspecified causes? Is the virus being passed around? Is it spreading out?

It would seem to me that it would be dangerous to let down our guard, to let the monster up off the mat before we really know what is going on here.

I understand the pressures coming from businesses and the pressures coming from all daily wage earners to get back to normal. But it is just too dangerous. The city isn’t in a position to start testing thousands of people, so we have to look for other ways to evaluate general health. Are barangay health centers seeing more people with this sort of symptom? Are there other free clinics around?

Are there small accommodations that could be made in the meantime? For instance, one elderly man proposed that tricycle drivers, masked, be allowed to ferry one passenger, also masked, to make it easier for people who really cannot walk to the nearest source of food goods. Or for people who need to seek medical aid.

Are there other things that might make the lockdown easier especially for people without cars? More food distribution? Mini talipapas? How do fishermen distribute fish? How do farmers sell their crops?

We can look for ways to make the situation easier and better without just giving up what we may have gained by holding the monster down on the mat!