Wow, what a turn of events. Looking back to January when news about the novel coronavirus began to leak out of China, it’s absolutely astounding to consider how fast this new disease has upturned day-to-day life in the U.S. — and even on our isolated coastline.

It now seems certain this emergency will grind on for months, though we can at least hope that some of the most excruciating impacts can be moderated if we follow expert guidance. Staying home when we can — especially when sick — will do more than anything else to lessen risks to everyone. If we’re very lucky, perhaps it will become possible to gradually get back to some kind of normal even before a safe and effective vaccine is developed and distributed.

Let’s live through this

Such good fortune is likely to remain only a daydream this spring, so we must make the best of things. How so? First and foremost, by taking care of one another. This means:

• Check on your neighbors, particularly those who are 60-plus and thus most at risk of serious infection. Give them a call to make certain they have someone checking in on them. If they don’t, maybe you can make a brief call part of your daily routine. If need be, offer to pick up and drop off on their doorstep any essential supplies.

• Take care of your own health. Do this by avoiding crowds, sleeping and eating well (see John Wilkins’ advice on page A7 today), and getting out and enjoying the outdoors during what is turning out to be a spectacular early spring. We are so blessed to live where we do; let’s make full use of it. And don’t hesitate to reach out for support from friends and professionals if you feel yourself getting emotionally or physically run down.

• Treat this as you would any natural disaster. As long-time residents have learned during major winter storms, try to keep your gas tank at least half full. If you’re able to, keep a little extra cash on hand. Instead of hoarding things like hand sanitizer and toilet paper, take this opportunity to build up the two-week supply of all the items we are also supposed to have on hand on this coastline so prone to infrequent but enormous earthquakes. This includes nonperishable foods, all-weather clothing, a stockpile of medications and anything else you will absolutely need if cut off from the outside world.

• Shop locally and support local merchants and their employees. The economic consequences of a sudden shutdown of restaurants and taverns, entertainment businesses and other important local businesses will hurt lots of folks. We need to all support the people who support us. The Chinook Observer Facebook page is promoting a long list of local eateries that are moving to pick-up and home-delivery style service. Give them a call and help keep them alive and viable for when this crisis has passed. Our large seafood sector is highly dependent on exports, which have essentially ceased. Enjoy our local crab and oysters!

• As businesses, we all must do our best to serve our neighbors in a safe and friendly manner. Integrity is essential all the time, but never more so than in this period of horrible stress on local families. This means preserving vital services, our employees’ jobs and our own ability to endure the economic fallout settling on our coastal communities. Now is the time to reach out for help, if needed, from the Small Business Administration and to avail ourselves of Washington state aid that will be coming on line following welcome action by the Legislature before it adjourned last week. The Observer will make certain to spread information as it becomes available.

Disaster news

Like everyone else in the news business, the Chinook Observer is avidly pursuing all possible angles of this coronavirus pandemic that is roiling everyday life. While placing a premium on keeping our employees and everyone we interact with safe, we are exploring what a shutdown of a broad swath of the local economy means for all who live, work and play in Pacific County. Today’s extensive coronavirus news package, in addition to many ongoing online-only bulletins, is freely available to all at www.chinookobserver.com.

At the Observer as in all other Pacific County businesses, we’ll be carefully marshaling our resources to ensure we’re here to serve you for many decades to come. Although the scale of this health emergency is unique in our lifetimes, we have weathered previous deep recessions and emerged intact.

To quote our colleagues at The Chronicle in Centralia, “Our message is this: We stand with you, and we are prepared to use our resources in print and online to help put your products, services and histories before the eyes of our readers.”

This week’s coronavirus coverage is the tip of a gigantic iceberg. We ask you to help us tell the stories of this horrible historic event. Tales of heroism and sacrifice? Please tell us. Stories about gaps and problems? Please tell us. Call us with news tips and suggestions at 360-642-8181, or editor@chinookobserver.com.

We wish you all well. To quote the 1980s TV cop drama “Hill Street Blues” — Let’s be careful out there!

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