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In dealing with the coronavirus, listen to the experts and we will beat this: Editorial

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Looking at where we’ve come in just a week regarding the coronavirus gives us concerns about where we will be in a month or so.

Last week’s editorial urged everyone to remain calm and follow health suggestions. We asked everyone to do their part. All the points from last week’s editorial still apply.

Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Don’t touch your face. Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbows and not your hands. Clean surfaces frequently. Stay home if you are sick.

However, when you woke up last Wednesday and read our editorial, think about where we were as a state and country. We knew there were cases in the United States, but school was still in session. Businesses were running without interruption. High school, college and pro sports were at full blast.

Now, we are being told to stay home. Limit our interactions. Hunker down. President Donald Trump on Monday released guidelines that called for people to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday called for the closure of all non-essential businesses across the state for 14 days. He did not mandate it, but he “strongly urged” it to happen.

We are basically being told to not leave the house. Terms such as the “new normal” are being tossed around, at least as to how we will live our lives in the coming months.

Our interactions with other humans outside those in our house will basically end.

Let us be clear: We have to change the way we are living and adhere to these guidelines. Those who are still questioning the seriousness of this pandemic need to reassess what they are doing. You don’t want to be inconvenienced by changing your lifestyle? Too bad.

This is not the end of the world. However, our actions now and in the coming weeks can mitigate just how serious this pandemic is for us and for future generations.

No, millions of Americans likely will not die from the coronavirus. But it’s a possibility if we don’t continue to take the proper steps.

There are about 327 million people in the United States. Between 160 million and 214 million Americans could be infected over the course of the pandemic, The New York Times reported, based on projections by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die, the paper reported.

That’s a wide range. You know what will make the difference between the low number and this high one? How we continue to respond to the guidelines our leaders put forth.

We in the media have been accused of spreading panic.

We are not.

We are reporting on what medical experts are saying and doing to combat the spread of this deadly virus. How many times in history have there been the steps put forth to limit human interaction like right now? That is not a concoction of the media.

These are drastic steps. They are life-changing. But they should be temporary.

Also, you can tell us how you’re coping. What you do is news — it’s what we want to report because it might help others.

Here is the irony of taking the proper steps for those who think we are overreacting. We could prove the detractors right, because we will limit the seriousness of the pandemic. The only way to prove the detractors wrong would devastate our medical community and the economy — widespread illnesses and deaths.

Speaking of the economy: We mentioned our concerns last week that our economy could take a severe hit. Certainly the closure of non-essential businesses is scary and puts many jobs at risk.

Let us see where the economic support offered by the federal government leaves those whose jobs might go away before we panic. Also, you can still take steps to support local businesses and adhere to the guidelines health experts are putting forth.

We will get through this. The world is not ending. But it sure is changing, and it will continue to do so in the coming months.

Do your part, even if it’s small, to get us through this. The Press & Journal has taken steps in our corner of the world. Our office is closed to walk-in visitors, some employees are working remotely, and we have limited face-to-face meetings.

We wish you and your loved ones good health.