Gilroy saw two deaths  in mid-March, a woman in her 80s and a man in his 60s

Coronavirus photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control

Editorial is the opinion of Morgan Hill Life

We will get through this public health crisis. But we must stay calm and be smart about what we do to reduce the impact on South Valley residents and our region’s financial stability.

Like much of America, we have seen the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on our daily lives. In a hard-to-make decision, seven Bay Area counties Monday, March 16, announced there would be shelter-in-place restrictions in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. It is the most aggressive response by public health officials in the United States so far, mirroring the lockdowns in Italy, Spain and France. This dramatic response confines millions of residents in their homes for at least three weeks, with the exception of workers in “essential business” fields such as food distribution, public safety and certain other jobs including the news media.

The dangers of coronavirus are significant — and especially for the elderly. Gilroy saw two deaths  in mid-March, a woman in her and a man in his 60s. We’ll see more.

We’re seeing the impact. Many eateries have closed, offering take-out only to customers. Grocery stores  shelves are depleted as panicked people stock up for a potential long period of sheltering at home. It should be noted, however, that the supply chain for groceries has not been affected. They are getting deliveries. But when people are told by the American president that the crisis might last as long as August, it’s only human to fear about living without the basics and want to make sure they can get through the crisis without their families growing hungry.

Schools are also closed for at least the next several weeks because of the coronavirus threat, making it difficult for some parents to deal with having to home-school their children while also working from their homes. And we know there are workers locally who live paycheck to paycheck and are not fortunate to be in jobs that allow them to work from home. They will find it hard to pay the bills without work-hours if the coronavirus continues to hit the community for several months.

The shelter-in-place order is no doubt causing much inconvenience for many of us. But it’s a necessity to save lives by preventing the spread of the virus through social contacts. If the patient cases grows exponentially, as it might if left unchecked, Silicon Valley and rest of the Bay Area might soon experience what Seattle went through or even Italy. We have only a limited number of hospital beds and doctors, nurses and other workers to care for those who have life-threatening illnesses from the virus. Police officers and firefighters also risk getting ill from their exposure helping people with the virus, thus impacting the quality of public safety if they need to be quarantined.

The problem of “stealth transmission” is the main reason for the dramatic shelter-in-place order. People who are asymptomatic might feel fine and socialize with others. But the nature of the virus means they might pass it along to someone for whom the illness can be fatal. An analysis published in Science found that in China people with mild or no symptoms were the main drivers behind its spread.

This is a serious crisis for the entire world. The alarms are going off and action by all of us is needed to contain the spread and prevent as many deaths as possible. The coronavirus might over the next year if we fail as a society to respond to this threat devastate the global industrial civilization to the point where it will take many years to rebound. Dr. Neil M. Ferguson, a British epidemiologist who is regarded as one of the best disease modelers in the world, produced a sophisticated model showing that a worst case scenario of 2.2 million deaths in the United States.

The pandemic humanity now faces is far worse than the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by terrorists on America. COVID-19 has killed many more people during the past several months. And it threatens to have a far worse  and longer-term impact on the financial health of many nations. Immediately after the attacks on the World  Trade Center and the Pentagon, Americans came together in a spirit of union against a common enemy. It was a time when citizens of differing political opinions — Democrats, Republics and others — joined as a team filled with pride in our nation’s strengths, our values and our virtues. With COVID-19 and the ongoing public safety threat it imposes, many of us are now forced to isolate ourselves. All of us are feeling the psychological stress of not being able to enjoy social activities such as concerts, sports games, restaurant dinners, wedding receptions, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, religious worship or a shopping outing.

We Americans have faced crises before. We have come through stronger and better. We now are going through a trying time here in South Valley and other areas of America. We will get through this crisis. We humans have a way of surviving. We can just need to stay calm and be smart and take country of one another.

Morgan Hill Life Editorial
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