“We’ve gone crazy,” said a shopper out loud in a grocery store aisle lined with empty shelves. This shopper expressed what many other ordinary Americans have felt, the surprise and frustration at finding no potatoes, no canned soup and no toilet paper on store shelves that for nearly every day of their lives have been packed with goods.
In this period of coronavirus fears, calls for calm and to not buy more than is necessary should be heeded. We are in this together; so each of us should be thoughtful of others in the community who also need groceries. We encourage everyone to keep a level head and be considerate.
Yet, it is not really crazy to want to stock up when public officials are making decisions that affect so many people in such sweeping, personal ways as we have seen in the past week. Prominent voices have incited fear, in the national media and on social media. The steps ordered by public officials to combat the virus have also sown fear.
We support and comply with the sweeping closures and social distancing mandates in place. At the same time, we look forward to their end. People, businesses and other organizations across the Columbia Basin have been hurt by these measures. Whether public officials understood the costs of their decisions or not, there are many more people in our neighborhoods who have been affected by the mandates than there are cases of COVID-19.
We have been told that the stern measures taken — and more are presented each day, it seems — are intended to make it less difficult for the health care sector to cope with and help a predicted large, overwhelming rush of COVID-19 patients. We support this strategy while it is in place. It needs a little time to work or to show that it isn’t effective, if that is the case.
Now is not the time to let second-guessing our public officials stop us from doing what is necessary, such as washing hands more than we are used to and staying home if sick.
Now is the time for people and institutions in our communities to work together. Look for ways to volunteer and smooth out this journey into the unknown, as our public officials work on solutions. By shopping locally and supporting local businesses, we are building successful communities. Many small businesses across the Basin have been hit hard, and we want them to not only survive this but bounce back and thrive, along with all their employees. By reaching out to help each other, we are building resilient communities.