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In the fight against COVID-19, the little things matter

Local, state and federal officials have always said the goal of the shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders was never to get the number of COVID-19 cases to zero. Those decisions were to slow the spread of the virus and keep our local and state health facilities from being overrun with patients in desperate need of ICU beds, ventilators and extreme care.

And even though the number of cases continues to creep higher and higher, it would appear that run on the medical community has been kept at a somewhat manageable level.

But that is today. There is no telling what will happen tomorrow, next week or next month.

There is no telling what will happen when the economy is at full throttle and restrictions on gatherings and other social distancing measures are lessened further. What then? What will the numbers be on that day or two weeks later? Will our medical facilities be able to handle what may very well come next?

As we said months ago, this is new territory for all involved. No one has the playbook and leaders across the board are navigating a situation that no one expected to be dealing with when they took their respective oaths of office.

Leaders from the federal government all the way to Vicksburg City Hall and the Warren County Courthouse are relying on data and the best advice possible from state and local health officials. They are also having to deal with the economic impact from weeks of having the economy shut down and near-historic unemployment levels.

While the playbook is still being written on how to deal with a pandemic on a global scale, there continues to be things we as individuals can do; in short, it all comes down to the little things.

We can continue to wear masks when in public. We can continue to adhere to indoor and outdoor social distancing guidelines. And, we can continue to ask elderly members in our family to stay at home as much as possible, ensuring those who are at the most risk from this illness are protected.

We can continue to encourage our friends and family to follow the suggestions to the best of their abilities and do not dismiss this virus as a hoax, a conspiracy or the common cold that mere sunlight can vanquish. It is more than that — far more.

As restrictions are eased, we will see higher case numbers. As more testing is done, we will see higher numbers.

But just because we assume those things to be true does not mean they have to happen. It does not mean that we as individuals, as families, cannot have an impact on the spread of this disease. We can and we must.

In previous editorials, we pressed that adhering to government guidelines and suggestions is a personal responsibility, but we were wrong. It is not personal, it is public. Doing these little things that we are asked is what we as citizens of a free and open society should be willing to do for the good of our free and open society. If we do not, then we are staring at not just a second wave of the virus, but a second wave of shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders.

And if that happens, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.