The time is not right for public concerts

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
Michael Hutchins

In the realm of show business, there is the old phrase that the show must go on. Rain or shine, good or bad, the show must go on as scheduled, but does that hold true this year?

Over the weekend, the cities of Sherman and Denison each announced plans to continue to hold their annual concerts: Hot Summer Nights and Music on Main, respectively.

The announcements by the cities comes as Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order restricting all outdoor gatherings of 100 people or more without permission from the local municipality in response to spiking cases of COVID-19 across the state..

As unpopular as my opinion may be, I think that both cities should cancel their events for the public safety of the entire community.

As of writing, there are more than 30 active cases of COVID-19 that have been diagnosed, and I feel that some people have been taking undue comfort in that number and are growing complacent. This number doesn’t include cases that have not been diagnosed, and asymptomatic carriers.

Certainly, numbers on paper are significantly lower in Grayson County than other parts of the state, but that is transitory at best. If we as a community do not take the steps necessary, Grayson County may once again see a spike in cases.

One of the most effective ways we can keep it from spiking is by limiting large gathering like the concerts.

Last week, I saw video of the crowds at Hot Summer Nights for Scott Stapp’s performance, and I was surprised at the size of the crowds. From what I could see, there did not appear to be any social distancing taking place.

While Stapp certainly is a draw, I don’t see the size of crowds diminishing any time soon. Both cities are scheduled to hold Fourth of July events this weekend, which means thousands of people gathering.

And where are they all coming from for these concerts and other events? The vast majority are from the area, but some acts do have significant followings elsewhere, including areas that are a hotbed for the infection.

With this epidemic, it doesn’t take many initial carriers to spread the disease to a much larger crowd. We saw it earlier this Spring at Tyson and Ruiz Foods, which both saw employees test positive for the disease. We saw it again more recently in the jail system.

I’ve seen some people make the argument that if you are scared, just don’t go, but that implies my health is based solely on my decisions. I can just as easily catch it from someone who went to the event while doing the necessities in my life like going to the grocery store.

We are fighting this disease as a community not as individuals in a vacuum. By keeping each individual free from the infection, we are keeping all of us safe.

The last few months have been difficult for a lot of people, and many are looking for a return to normalcy. Events like Music on Main and Hot Summer Nights can bring comfort, but the time is not right for them just yet. It may be hard for people, but we need to wait a little longer before we hold these kinds of events.

As was said a few weeks ago during a Sherman city council meeting, the cities are currently facing a tough choice with regard to the reopening and this return to normalcy. While the decision to hold off on these events may be hard, and unpopular it is ultimately the best decision for the health of the community.

Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.