It’s time to take care of our own

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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I sat outside Sunday after not leaving the house for 18 days and had some terrifying thoughts about the Coronavirus and where we live. We think of ourselves as being safe; from crime and traffic and all the things others in this country and even state have to worry about. My son and I say all the time we live in paradise (our nickname for Columbus, where we live, is actually Paradise), and we truly do. We have a good county government who truly loves the area and its people and one of the best school systems in the state, and likely the country. We welcome visitors and are able to do lots of things because of tourism. People love our county and we get bigger and bigger on the map because of our lakes, rivers, small towns and overall beauty. 

But this is a different time. I just kept thinking to myself on Sunday, what if the virus gets into one of our nursing homes? What if the spread gets so great, our tiny little hospital (who we all love and need) and its 2 ventilators cannot handle it? Why are we letting people from New York and Florida and wherever else stay here? What if these people from affected states want to flee and find us who are still letting people in? I would sure flee here if I lived somewhere heavily affected. 

Is it time to lock the gates?

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I was happy to discover Monday I wasn’t the only person thinking these things. I sent county officials and all county commissioners an email Monday morning asking if they were thinking along the same lines. I never got an answer to the email, but I didn’t need an answer thankfully. Later Monday I received an order that had been signed by emergency management director Bobby Arledge and health director Joshua Kennedy. County officials were actually ahead of me and said they had been thinking about it for days. 

So, thank you county officials for easing my fears. I commend them for issuing an order to cease short-term rentals temporarily and for people who have traveled to hot spot areas to mandatorily quarantine for 14 days. 

Yes, I know, that will hurt our local economy and it’s more businesses that will have to be shut down. I know more people die from the flu every year. I’ve heard it all. Trust me. I just think between federal help and unemployment and this community, we will figure out how to shut it down for a month, or two, or however long it takes to save the lives of this community. And we will then figure out how to heal economically. 

This virus is different, I’m telling you. It’s about the contagion, the spread, the death rate, the peaks and especially the stress on the healthcare system. It’s different on so many levels. It’s a lack of tests, not having medicine to treat it nor a vaccine. 

We cannot live in this community, where we have mostly elderly people, and have any high percentage of our people be admitted to the hospital at the same time. We just can’t handle it. 

I’ve studied what has been happening in other countries for over two months now. I read about it and have been listening to podcasts every day for months. It’s just different on so many levels. And people are welcome to disagree, say it’s fake news, it’s not happening, we don’t shut down for other viruses, that there is some inside conspiracy going on. I don’t care. This is not the flu. Ask a nurse in a big hospital who is having to de-robe and disinfect themselves before walking into their home from a shift prior to greeting their family so they don’t infect their loved ones. 

When this is over and people tell me, ‘see, I told you so. We only had this many deaths.’ 

Well good, that’s exactly the point of all this. I’ll be happy to still be alive for everyone to tell me I overreacted. 

I’m hoping by next year or maybe even sooner, we will think of the Coronavirus like we do H1N1 or any of the flu strands. No big deal. Take a vaccine in the fall and even if you get it, it’s not so bad. But the fact of the matter is, we are not there yet. Not even close. 

It’s time to protect our own. Lock up the county gates. I’m fine with it.