Oliver: We’re all in this together; let’s keep everyone safe

Joan Oliver
Joan Oliver

For many years now, the generosity and collective spirit of McHenry County’s residents has been something to behold. See a need, fill a need.

I’ve been so proud of the way our county has come together in times of crisis.

Folks, we have a real crisis on our hands right now. And honestly, we have to do better. The global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, also known as coronavirus, is at pandemic level. Entire countries are on lockdown.

Yes, we’ve been told that this illness tends to be mild in most people, but in those who are at high risk, it can be fatal. We’ve also been told that those in the high-risk category are those older than 60, those with compromised immune systems and those with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.

However, as other areas of the world have shown, that does not mean that you’re in the clear if you are not in one of those categories. You still can die from this illness, even if you are a child or a young adult.

That’s why it’s so important that we get our heads around the idea of social distancing.

It’s not just sporting events and concerts. It’s not just schools and houses of worship.

It’s literally trying to not be around anyone.

That also means that it’s not OK to go out and about thinking that because you’re not at high risk that your life doesn’t have to be affected. We’re all in this together. We all have a stake in getting this over with as soon as possible with the least number of people infected.

Hoarding toilet paper? Really?

Not only is that unnecessary (it’s primarily a respiratory illness), but standing in line in a crowded store as large groups panic-buy is a very good way to spread the illness. After all, most people have it for at least five days before showing any symptoms.

You might not have it, but there’s no guarantee that the next person in line doesn’t. Don’t risk it.

What that panic buying also does is that it makes it very difficult for people who are trying their best to be isolated at home from getting what they need.

Do any of us really want our older neighbor who has COPD to put herself at risk when she goes to the store? Do we really want her to have to go to more than one store because what she needs has been bought out in bulk by the rest of us?

What would be great and in the spirit of the McHenry County that I know and love would be to check on that neighbor (by phone or text, if possible) and make sure she has what she needs.

As a caregiver and cancer patient, I’m more than a little concerned right now. My household would literally not function if I get sick. No doubt I’m not the only caregiver in a similar situation. Please keep us in mind and be kind.

If we want to support our restaurants (and we should), then maybe we can order takeout and use a delivery service. That way the restaurants still have business and we support the delivery folks, too.

If we need to “get together,” let’s be creative. Could we Skype with a group and watch the same movie and create our own “Mystery Science Theater 3000” experience, complete with sarcastic comments? The only limits are our imaginations.

Just please, please don’t think that it’s OK to gather. Stay away from each other. For now.

This crisis won’t last forever. Yes, it’s going to be mighty inconvenient while it lasts. However, if we pull together, we just might be able to get this thing over sooner rather than later.

Let’s be safe and careful out there.

• Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.

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