I wrote this week’s article three days ago. I trashed it the next day. I knew I had to write about the Coronavirus crisis, but I did not know that the story would change each and every day.
I am 65 years old and never in my life have I ever seen anything quite like this unseen virus that has brought this country and indeed the world to a screeching halt. The speed that COVID-19 engulfed the world is unprecedented. It is not a story about another part of the world; it is about our world.
In one week, we have seen several seldom used words and phrases become part of our everyday dialogue. Social distancing. Pandemic. Quarantine. Isolation. Vaccine. Flattening the curve.
We have seen a disruption of things we have taken for granted. There is no toilet tissue to be found in most stores around the country, though the virus typically does not cause diarrhea.
In a visit today to a huge Kroger grocery store and an even larger Sam’s Club, I found the shelves bare of paper towels, water, hand soap, and sanitizer. More surprising was the apparent run on things like eggs, meat, bread and peanut butter.
Fear is a powerful emotion. Fear of the unknown is even more powerful. We cannot see the virus and we do not totally trust our leadership. The stock market has been repeatedly whipsawed in ways that have not been seen since the Great Depression.
Broadway is dark. Las Vegas and Disney World are closed. Schools from kindergarten to universities are closed ,leaving millions of parents struggling to figure out how to take care of their kids.
Restaurants and bars are closing or converting to takeout only. We are now advised to not gather with groups larger than ten people. My mother and father-in-law both live in facilities that are locked down. You and I may not be far behind.
I have four things to say about our current situation. First, to the people that think this is a hoax, a Chinese plot, or an attempt to somehow damage the President, I would say get a life. Your ignorance not only puts your own life at risk, but also those of your loved ones and people you do not know.
Second, I would say to trust the scientists, medical professionals, and other experts in this field. They may be dealing with an unknown virus, but these experts have infinitely more insight than politicians or self-promoting newscasters. Trust the facts and demand the truth from those we elected to lead us.
Third, do your part. This pandemic is a challenge to our way of life. Avoid crowds. If you are sick, isolate yourself. Wash your hands …. repeatedly. Cover your mouth if you sneeze.
Fourth, pray for our country and the world. Pray for those desperately working to discover a treatment and a vaccine. Pray for those who are putting their own lives at risk to serve others and keep order in difficult circumstances. Pray that our leaders become uniformly focused on the greatest challenge of my generation.
There is no escaping this virus. It is already where you live, work and play. Our strength and best hope in this battle is our own community. Our family. Our friends. Our neighbors. We are best equipped to defeat this enemy when we are united in our cause.
This too will pass, but the question is at what cost. The time for action is now. Do your part for the sake of your family and your nation.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org