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Yes, things have changed in 2020 in a dramatic fashion. The outbreak of a modern virus epidemic -- the covid-19 pandemic -- has thrown us all in a tailspin.

Imagine, for a minute, how will you respond to the gradual, and I place a lot of emphasis both written and imagined on the term gradual, "return to normal," in Arkansas.

Our Governor Asa Hutchinson, a veteran politician, elected now almost seven years ago as our chief administrator, has been out in front of this pandemic. He is closing in on his 50th day of continuous public briefings to the state on this health and economic crisis.

And he has never actually wavered from the message of staying safe and his own message of trying to get Arkansas and its people out of the looming economic downturn this pandemic has plunged the entire world into, in these now summertime days of 2020.

The governor has surrounded himself at these daily briefings with a collection of spokespeople who have helped him convey his daily message of hope and caution to the people of Arkansas.

But few have been as well received or as factually correct and forthcoming to the people of Arkansas like Director of Health Dr. Nate Smith.

Dr. Smith has balanced the clinical side of his training in medicine with the economic message sought by the governor and others in the state's financial sectors to deliver messages that make sense to the average citizen while at the same time instilling hope in the resiliency of Arkansans.

His comments this past week strike home to me and should to you as well.

In again explaining why Gov. Hutchinson did not issue a "stay at home" rule as did many other governors across the nation, Dr. Smith said this:

"He (Gov. Hutchinson) thought that was an example for other states and something they (Arkansans on the governor's team) would continue to watch very carefully."

Dr. Smith goes on to deliver, perhaps, the real message of his continued presence and valuable input in the administration's message.

"I was very pleased with that input, especially since, to hear some people talk, it seems that they think you have to choose between saving lives and saving the economy," the state's largest newspaper quoted Smith last Friday.

"I want to say that really is a false choice, because here in Arkansas we're doing both."

Stop and ponder that last statement.

In Arkansas, the political administration in power, is not trying to choose between saving life or saving the economy -- it is trying to do both.

By the time you, gentle readers, will scan these 600-plus words, no doubt Arkansas will be closing in on 100 deaths directly attributed to the covid-19 outbreak.

And even with many small businesses and types of businesses which are all essential to Arkansas' economy openings -- even in a limited capacity -- the state will still be facing unemployment, joblessness and hunger like unseen since the Great Depression.

Managing the state's fragile health of its citizens, the state's even more fragile economic stability and trying to manage the daily operation of state government in this time of a world-wide and national pandemic is a big job.

Thankfully at this time, Arkansas has a seasoned governor, who despite his past moniker of being a "party" loyalist -- has risen to the real metal of his being -- and become a good leader.

History may not record or remember Asa Hutchinson and his staff for being economic whiz kids, or health gurus in long, flowing white lab coats full of expert advice, but history, I feel will record his performance as a leader as steady, compassionate and seldom shirking from his elected duty as our governor.

Look only to a handful of states who have that same type of leadership. Look even closer at a majority of our nation to states that do not have leadership of his caliber.

Should we thank our governor and his staff for their leadership just yet?

Yes is my answer and we should expect more of this same steady hand in leadership in the days ahead.

-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 05/13/2020

Print Headline: Life, politics has changed due to virus in Arkansas

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