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Opinion | Voice of The Southern

Voice of The Southern: Listen to the professionals and stay home
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Voice of The Southern

Voice of The Southern: Listen to the professionals and stay home

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We come to you today with a simple message: Let’s listen to the people who know what they’re talking about.

Public health professionals like those who staff our local and state public health departments have trained their whole careers for a situation like this, as unprecedented as it may be. They are the ones guiding our state and local leaders.

We have another message: Stay home.

When Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday made the announcement that he was issuing a stay-at-home order for the state, he prefaced by attempting to give Illinoisans a window into his decision-making process.

“My bedrock has been to rely upon science,” he said. He acknowledged his decisions to limit physical contact and crowds have meant affecting the livelihoods of some around the state.

“Ultimately, you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have a life,” he said Friday.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit our little part of the world. It’s here. As of Friday, there were two confirmed cases in Southern Illinois: One in Jackson County, and one in Williamson County. The number of confirmed cases around the state continues to increase. If we’ve learned anything over the past two weeks, it’s that things may just get worse before they get better.

The numbers of positive cases are going to continue to escalate, both due to the virus’ spread and the increase in testing.

The closures are going to continue. We know this is especially hard on small, local businesses. We thank all of you for making the sacrifices you are being asked to make for the sake of public health.

For a while, there may be more questions than answers.

This is definitely one of those times where we all should listen to public health professionals and our leaders at the local and state levels. Remember, they are looking out for all of us.

Yes, this is all very inconvenient. It’s inconvenient for children to not have school. It’s inconvenient (for some) to work from home. It’s inconvenient to not have some stores open. For some, it’s about more than inconvenience. We know this crisis is hitting a lot of people financially, and we know the strain is already taking its toll.

But, here’s the thing: We can get over being inconvenienced. It’ll be harder to get over the death of a loved one. It might take a while for some of us to rebound financially, but there will eventually be a rebound. It’ll be harder to get over the dramatic hit to our population and infrastructure this virus could cause if we do nothing.

Are we all overreacting to this? Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell. But, an overreaction is better than no reaction at all.

Let’s make this clear, too: This isn’t a partisan issue. The virus does not care who you voted for or what letter is after a politician’s name. Now is not the time to ignore warnings just because you didn’t vote for the man giving the warnings.

Stop spreading rumors. Bad information makes this whole ordeal harder for everyone. Let’s make sure things are real before sharing them on social media. Educate yourself on what’s real news and what is fake. (By the way, at this newspaper, as always, we won’t publish anything unless we are confident its source is reliable.)

And while we’re at it, if you can right now, let’s all support local businesses. They’re the ones hurting right now. Without regular business, and the longer this thing goes, the more they’re going to be affected.

Buy a gift card. Grab some take-out food (many restaurants, while closed for dine-in, are still able to provide curbside take-out service). Send your favorite bartender a tip on Venmo.

Our vulnerable populations, including those without permanent residence and children who sometimes don’t eat outside of school, are also facing great impacts due to closures and restrictions on daily life. We commend the volunteers who are continuing to work through this crisis to help people find shelter and food.

We may be physically separated, but we are still a community. Let’s do what we can to help one another. We applaud those who are already stepping up.

Concerned about COVID-19?

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