Our View: Let's pull together in face of public health crisis

These are extraordinary times, and people around our communities and our country are being asked to make sacrfices in the name of stopping the spread of a pandemic illness. It has not been easy, nor will it be – but it’s critical that we all stay calm and pull together as we ride this out. That means supporting local businesses, treating others well and, in general, doing the best we can to set a good example, take care of ourselves and support our communities.

Our society is based on civil liberties and the rights of individuals. It’s natural that this collective response and limits on our freedom go against our grain. However, consider the big picture: COVID-19 is a pandemic disease that already has had devastating effects on authoritarian societies such as China and western democracies such as Italy. Failure to take decisive steps to avoid such outcomes in this country would be unforgiveable.

We must remember that this situation is temporary and resolve that it will be. Let’s have patience as we adjust to the new limitations on our daily lives – but not unlimited patience. It already is clear that this abrupt halt in economic activity will have consequences. We can’t drive ourselves and our neighbors to ruin as we try to stave off this health crisis.

However, now is the time to pull together. There are many ways we can do our part as we face down this public health crisis. Perhaps most importantly, follow the advice of health experts. Wash your hands frequently. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home and office. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home when you can, and definitely stay home if you are feelling ill. Keep six feet away from other people in public and avoid any gatherings of more than 10.

Another step is to spend what we can with local small businesses. This newspaper’s website includes a regularly updated listing of local restaurants offering takeout service and how to contact them. Maybe spend some of the money that you’re saving on gas or other leisure activities with one of your local establishments, either by making a puchase or buying a gift card. Helping local businesses stay afloat is a great way to help your local community.

We also can help our neighbors and reduce the general anxiety by not hoarding supplies. Artificial scarcity makes the situation seem more dire. As the American Farm Bureau Federation says, our country’s farmers and ranchers are committed to ensuring Americans have stable access to healthy, affordable food.

When you do go out, be kind to people. There’s no need to drive recklessly or to be rude to a store clerk. We’re all subject to the same stresses, and we’re all in this together.

Finally, remember that this is a battle that we will win. This crisis will pass, and it will pass sooner if we all pull together.  When it does, we will emerge, we will celebrate and we will prosper once again.