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Stand together in our time of need

Our world has changed in many ways during the past week or so as the realities of the issues surrounding COVID-19 have really settled in.

It wasn’t that long ago that we heard the first reports that local events had been postponed or canceled. That quickly changed, as in a matter of days school were closed; countless meetings and events were canceled or postponed indefinitely; Ohio’s primary election was delayed at the last minute from Tuesday until June 2; dine-in customers were banned from all restaurants; churches have canceled services; an ever-growing number of businesses announced they were closing temporarily; we were advised to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people or, even better, stay alone in our homes and, if possible do our work from home; city council meetings were placed on hiatus; and local municipal buildings were locked up.

Does it all add up to a reason for great concern?

Certainly.

Should it lead us to panic?

Not at all.

What is needed now is for everyone to take a step back, grab a deep breath and look around.

Yes, the coronavirus is serious, in some cases deadly serious. And, we’ve been told by medical professionals that its effects are likely to get worse before they get better. It’s extremely contagious and, as a result, is spreading quickly across much of the nation, a march that is sure to put a strain on our health care system.

That said, let’s remember that if we all continue to take simple precautions we are, the medical professionals say, more likely to avoid a catastrophic increase that could easily overwhelm our systems.

Everyone should know them by now, but they bear repeating: Avoid close contact with other people — a distance of 6 feet or greater is recommended; avoid contact with people who are sick; avoid touching your face, nose, eyes or mouth; stay home from work if you are sick; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue that you then dispose of; clean and disinfect surfaces you touch regularly; liberally use hand sanitizer; and wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

Let’s also resist the temptation to become hoarders. By all means, purchase items that you and your family might need, but let’s keep common sense in play. While generalizations can be difficult to make, we’re going to go out on a limb and say there likely isn’t a household in our region that requires the purchase of 10 cases of toilet paper and 40 cans of peas at one time.

A week’s worth of groceries will suffice.

Local restaurants and bars — all aspects of the hospitality industry, in fact — are being hit hard. Their business has been reduced to carry-out only, and that’s likely to place a strain that will be too much to handle for some of the smaller operations.

You know who the owners of the local businesses are. They are our friends and neighbors. They attend church with us. Their children go to school with our children. They always are willing to help when the call goes out for sponsors for a youth sports league or team, a local nonprofit or any charity event. Maybe you’ve even asked the owner of a small business if he or she would be willing to donate a prize or a gift card for a drawing your organization has held.

Now is the time to show your support — remember that local restaurants are still open and ready to serve with to-go orders. Your business will help their business — and help to keep your friends and neighbors employed.

Don’t forget to check in with your friends, neighbors, family members and co-workers on a regular basis. That’s especially true if anyone on your list is older or disabled. Sharing a conversation, speaking a kind word or helping with an errand can go a long way toward easing someone’s anxiety.

It’s impossible to know now when the worst of the coronavirus pandemic will finally pass and things can begin to return to what we consider to be normal. Until that time comes, let’s keep in mind that the greatest strength residents of our region have is the ability to help one another in our times of need.

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