The novel coronavirus has been the big story of 2020, and it’s nowhere near over.
It has reshaped how people campaign for public office. It wiped out spring and summer sports at the collegiate and professional levels, and it could do so again when it’s time for football.
The virus has changed how we shop for groceries, how we spend our vacation time and how we interact with others. Eating out, going to school and greeting strangers just isn’t the same when you may be coming into contact with a carrier.
Infections and deaths related to the virus peaked several weeks ago, but the virus still hangs around.
As noted in an article in Sunday’s edition of The Herald-Dispatch, the number of cases of the novel coronavirus in West Virginia has topped 4,000.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources reported 4,146 total cases of COVID-19 in the state as of 5 p.m. Saturday, an increase of 163 cases since Friday. There were 2,979 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state on July 1.
There was also an additional death reported Saturday — a 68-year-old woman from Ohio County — bringing West Virginia’s total number of deaths related to the virus to 96.
In Cabell County, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, for a total of 188 confirmed cases in the county. There are also six probable cases. Eighty-six of the cases are considered currently active, while 108 have recovered.
Those numbers are small in a state of about 1.8 million people, but they are not insignificant when we remember that some people are more vulnerable to the virus than others.
So what do we do? Go back to lockdowns, although in a more limited way? Tough it out?
The late Paul Harvey was fond of saying, “Self government without self-discipline won’t work.” He was right. The president, governors, school boards and other public officials can issue all the executive orders, directives and advice they can think of, but if the public acts as if the virus isn’t still here, none of that will matter.
Individuals should respect the novel coronavirus. Don’t cower from it, but don’t get in its face, either. Use wisdom.
This is not the time to make a trip to the grocery store into a family outing. It’s not the time to line up shoulder to shoulder at the convenience store cash register. It’s not the time to dare a stranger to give you the coronavirus just to prove it’s a fake.
It’s also not the time to hide under your bed, waiting for the day in 2021 or 2022 when the vaccine is released. It’s not the time for mask wearers to harangue people who for reasons good or bad don’t wear masks. That works the other way, too.
This is the time to confront risk and manage it, not run from it.
Social distancing is still a good idea. It will still be a good idea when the virus begins to fade from the headlines. Washing hands frequently is a good idea, too, virus or no virus.
By this time next week, we should have a better idea of what life in this area will be like in August and September. Decisions will be made about school, sports, business and recreation. Some decisions that have already been made could be changed.
It may be a long time before the world returns to the old normal, assuming it ever does. A little bit of self-discipline and consideration toward others could bring that to pass sooner.