By now, everyone has been affected by the coronavirus in some fashion, even though there has yet to be a case diagnosed locally. It’s likely only a matter of time before we cross that threshold as well.
Schools closed. Events canceled. Employees working from home. Shortages at the stores. Personal schedules changed. Financial concerns.
Worry. Depression. Fear. Anxiety. Trepidation. Angst. Compassion. Anger.
Many of us have run the gamut of those realities over the course of the past week, with little reason to think the immediate future offers much hope for improvement.
The president has declared a national emergency. The governor has declared a public health emergency while closing colleges and setting up quarantine plans. The CDC is suggesting operational strategy for the nation.
And there is a looming sense that things are going to get worse before they get any better. The number of diagnosed cases in Georgia is going to increase exponentially when testing kits become more readily available. The death toll will rise.
So what do we do about it? We persevere. We move forward. We fight back.
The Times editorial board
- Norman Baggs, general manager
- Shannon Casas, editor in chief
- Cheryl Brown
- David George
- Mandy Harris
- Brent Hoffman
- J.C. Smith
- Tom Vivelo
By being educated about the disease, accepting what the scientists and the medical experts tell us. Abandoning the false notion that this is somehow a political hoax or “fake news” and treating it as the crisis it truly is.
Here at The Times, it is our goal to provide you with access to honest, factual information about COVID-19. Despite critics who would have you believe otherwise, most legitimate professional news sources operate in the same fashion.
As we all fight our way through this pandemic together, we encourage you to find reliable, proven sources for information upon which you can make personal decisions related to the disease. Many highly respected public and private health organizations have vital information easily available on their websites or via social media outlets, and we encourage everyone to take advantage of that information.
That’s step one.
Join our Community fighting coronavirus Facebook groupto share your own resources, suggestions and pose questions for us.
- gainesvilletimes.com/coronavirus: Free coverage of how the virus is affecting our community
- Department of Public Health: COVID-19 cases in Georgia by county, updated daily
- CDC: Advice on how to prepare, what to do if you’re sick and more
- World Health Organization: Advice on prevention and more
- Northeast Georgia Health System: Frequently asked questions
We must also do our part to stop the spread of the highly contagious disease. The governor Saturday recommended social distancing, which includes avoiding large gatherings and led him to advise churches and schools to shut down. Recommendations also include maintaining at least 3 feet of distance from others, according to the World Health Organization. We must self-isolate when exhibiting symptoms. Avoid those who may be sick. Become fastidious in our personal hygiene. Acknowledge that while COVID-19 may not be the most dangerous of diseases, it is highly contagious and there are things we can do to stop the line of transmission.
We must learn all we can learn about the spread of COVID-19, and become individually proactive in working to stop it.
That’s step two.
We also need to respect and support a national health care system that may soon find itself overwhelmed by those who are sick. That means following the advice of medical practitioners and not exposing others to the disease if you happen to contract it. While the impact of the virus might be mild upon you, it could be fatal to someone else.
It also means not abusing emergency rooms with non-emergency visits, as is often the case in the best of times, and not having unrealistic expectations about the level of care that can be provided by harried nurses, technicians, doctors and other health care providers.
That’s step three.
Once we have absorbed the initial shock of last week’s events, we also need to try to return to some sort of routine normalcy within the parameters of common sense. We need to find ways to safely patronize local businesses, which are going to feel the brunt of the economic shutdown accompanying the pandemic and which otherwise may not survive the weeks ahead.
We need to help those who should be quarantined but do not have the resources to do so. We need to reassure our children that this scary time is going to pass. We need to remember that we are a nation that has suffered through hard times before and can do so again. We need to rediscover our resiliency.
That’s step four.
And, lastly, we need to remember that we are all in this thing together. It’s not a Republican thing or a Democrat thing, not a black, brown or white thing, not an old thing or a young thing. It’s a challenge that demands we unite as a people and work together to keep the death toll as low as possible, to keep the burden on our health system as small as possible, to keep the economic impact as limited as possible, and to keep the damage done to our national psyche as controlled as possible.
As tests for the disease become more available and are more widely used, the number of reported infections is going to increase in dramatic fashion. The number has already increased the most it has in a 24-hour period, up to 66 cases, according to the governor’s announcement Saturday. And some of those cases have no known origin, suggesting the disease is most certainly being transmitted on a local level. The likelihood of someone in our community being diagnosed with the disease becomes increasingly higher as it spreads across the state and nation.
We have to be prepared for that, and ready to do our part to lessen the impact of a virus that is rapidly making its way around the world and leaving chaos in its path.
Despite the doom and gloom of the past week, there is cause for optimism. The number of diagnosed cases in China is dropping daily, the ratio between cases resulting in cures and cases resulting in death is improving. Most cases have only mild symptoms. And, as we have been told constantly for weeks now, attention to cleaning and sanitation can help eliminate the virus.
Collectively, we all need to take a deep breath, evaluate facts from reliable sources without overly investing in panicked fears, and become proactive in our approach to dealing with this international health concern.