A successful economic recovery from the challenges of COVID-19 is critically important for every person, business and community in the Chippewa Valley. We believe that slowing disease spread is essential for maintaining a strong, vibrant local economy.

As co-chairs of the Chippewa Valley COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, we are collaborating with many others to promote safety practices that protect workers, customers and the general public. We are particularly grateful to the business leaders who recognize the value and importance of wearing face masks.

From the beginning of the pandemic, Menards has had a mask requirement. Many of our area grocers and retailers now require a mask. And the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce has initiated a “We ask that you wear a mask” campaign.

More than 200 businesses are participating in the task force’s “Committed to Safety” program whereby they commit to using best practices for protecting the health of their customers and employees. These businesses display a “We Are Committed to Safety” decal near their entrances.

The bad news is, even after all our sacrifices and good work, the virus is not giving up and in some respects is gaining steam. It is an extremely contagious disease and transmission happens easily. So even for groups that may not be at risk to be significantly affected even after contacting the disease (i.e. our young population), the risk of spread to those who are at risk to be significantly affected is great.

If we are looking forward to these things:

• Our businesses to remain open and even open more fully sometime soon.

• Our schools to open and get back to a more normal education of our students.

• A return of our local music events, sporting events and other larger gatherings.

• A healthy Chippewa Valley where our residents are back to a more normal way of life.

Then we all must commit to:

• Social distancing: Keep at least 6 feet of distance from others outside your household in all settings, particularly in the public.

• Wearing a cloth face mask, especially when it is not possible to keep a six-foot distance.

• Regularly washing our hands.

• Continuing to do all of the above at any private gatherings we attend (family events, club meetings, religious gatherings, etc.)

Each of us needs to do our part. Wash your hands often, keep at least 6 feet between you and others when you are in public, and wear a cloth face mask when you can’t keep 6 feet from others. These simple practices are critically important for slowing disease spread.

And for the sake of our community, we must remain vigilant. Using a baseball analogy, it’s a nine-inning game and we are only in the third inning. The COVID-19 disease will be in our community for many months to come. Our businesses and the general public have all sacrificed in many different ways for months fighting off this disease. We have worked too hard to give in now. Please do your part to help stop the spread.

For more information about the Chippewa Valley COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, go to our website or follow us on Facebook.

Faanes and Moore are co-chairs of the Chippewa Valley COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force.