COVID-19 demands our attention, not our fear

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COVID-19 is a serious and frightening disease. It has destroyed lives and livelihoods. It’s dominated our politics and it’s turned the use of facemasks into a constitutional battle of free will.

The coronavirus has my attention. I reacted with skepticism, purely out of ignorance, when it arrived to the United States. Nobody knew what to expect back then. For the most part, we still don’t today.

But it won’t chase me back into my rabbit hole.

I respect and follow the protocols to help prevent the spread of the deadly virus. I keep my distance. I wear my mask. I wash my hands. I avoid crowds.

But I still go to the grocery store. I take my morning walks. I refuse to hide from my own shadow.

In the past few days, we learned President Donald Trump has COVID-19. So does his wife and members of his inner circle. Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden also has tested positive for the virus, joining a list of 10 football players with the Tennessee Titans and New England quarterback Cam Newton.

The Rock had it. So did Tom Hanks, Kayne West, Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory,” Neil Patrick Harris and Kevin Hart.

Businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain, country artist Joe Diffie, NFL kicker Tom Dempsey, Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy, former Auburn football coach Pat Dye and Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver all died from the virus.

While we can reasonable to worry and respect the threat of the coronavirus, it’s another thing to let it define who we are and what we do. But it’s up to us, not the government, to make it go away.

While pharmaceutical companies work on a vaccine and our elected officials work on ways to improve testing, it’s up to us to do our part. Rules and regulations don’t mean a thing when we don’t do the simple things to curb the spread.

We need to find a balance between living our lives and being smart. We must get this right. Failure would result in the collapse of our society.

We can’t afford another shutdown. It will take years to recover economically from the havoc that followed the first wave of confirmed cases. For millions, there is no returning.

Fear feeds on ignorance, and there’s plenty of both being spread – along with the virus – right now.

Trump asked us not to be afraid of COVID-19. I’m not. But I respect it, and I will do everything necessary to prevent its spread.

Some believe the president was being flippant about COVID-19. I don’t agree. We haven’t been asked to be afraid of cancer or heart disease. We’ve been given options to help prevent those, including not smoking, eating a healthier diet, exercise and getting plenty of rest. Those who don’t do so at their own risk.

The same goes for coronavirus. Responsibility is a medicine that can go along way to beating this plague.

Ignoring simple protocols isn’t a matter of personal rights. It’s a matter of personal responsibility. Some believe it’s their right not to wear a mask in public places and maintain proper distancing, but that doesn’t give you the right to spread the disease – and possibly kill someone.

We have to get this right. The alternative would be more crippling than anything unleashed on a society.

We have to keep our stores and restaurants open. We also have to keep our guards up. And we can’t wait for Washington to fix this. It starts with us.

With no room for error.

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