The coronavirus is now confirmed in Shelburne, and here in Charlotte the Senior Center, the library and the school are closed, possibly for months. And the worst impacts of the virus are still to come.

How much worse depends in large measure on what we—as individuals and as a community—choose to do over the next days and weeks. As Asaf Bitton, a primary care physician and public health leader in Boston, recently put it in The Boston Globe, “We are only about 10 to 14 days behind Italy and generally on track to repeat what is unfortunately happening there and throughout much of the rest of Europe very soon.” And what is happening in Europe is devastating.

Keep your distance
For the health and safety of our entire community and to prevent COVID-19 from overwhelming our capacity to deal with it as it worsens, public health experts generally agree that the most important thing we can do now is to distance ourselves physically from other people. The reasons for doing so are summarized persuasively in Britton’s op ed, “Social distancing in the coronavirus pandemic – maintaining public health by staying apart.”
Everyone should read Britton’s piece and take his recommendations seriously. The Globe has taken down its paywall to allow nonsubscribers access to its coronavirus coverage, as have The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Here at The Charlotte News we will do all we can to help people stay connected in virtual space and, as long as we can, in print during what are sure to be a challenging next several months. Send us your story ideas and tips, and we’ll pursue them in our print and online editions as well as in our weekly email updates; in the event of significant breaking news, we’ll send out email updates as frequently as needed.

Even while practicing social distancing, be sure to check in with your friends and neighbors (by phone or email preferably) and provide whatever help you can, and wash your hands early and often with soap and water while you sing the Happy Birthday song twice through. If we all take care of ourselves and each other we’ll get through this sooner rather than later, with less illness–and death–rather than more.

Now more than ever, we really are all in this together.