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Editorial: Every red light eventually turns green

As people across America, Salisbury and Rowan County sit in their homes, hoping that our national crisis doesn’t last long, there’s a foreboding feeling that the situation could be far from its peak.

Things have moved so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. Many employers have sent employees to work from home, and others are putting in place new protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus and its associated disease COVID-19. Restaurants have been ordered to only serve take-out and call-in customers — no dine in. Notably, schools are closed. Churches are trying to continue to serve the faithful by streaming services online.

Ask local business and political leaders one week ago about the local economy and they’d beam with excitement, rattling off many projects just completed or underway. Today, that excitement is tempered by the likelihood that shutdowns could become lockdowns if the virus escalates. Our local economic success is likely to turn south for a period until the coronavirus is under control.

As of Tuesday evening, there were no confirmed or presumptive positive cases in Salisbury or Rowan County, but medical professionals and first responders have prepared for the eventuality that tests currently being conducted will produce some positives. For too long, testing criteria was too strict and testing kits also were limited. That tests are being conducted now is good news because it means we’ll soon be able to pinpoint cases.

People are justifiably worried about what that future looks like. Some folks have only just started to work from home. For others, it’s still business as usual for now. As Bev Ellis, who is taking care of five grandchildren, told reporter Shavonne Potts in a story published today, “There’s just a lot of people afraid to go out.”

For Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina and the country, our crisis cannot become paranoia. Every red light eventually turns green, and the speed at which that green light allows our community to return to normal depends on the steps everyone takes now to battle a common enemy — the coronavirus.

Whether, among other things, it’s hand washing, avoiding shaking hands, wiping down hard surfaces, allowing employees to work from home, staying away from large crowds or social distancing, there’s a role for everyone in flattening the curve of coronavirus’ spread. Salisbury and Rowan County cannot panic, but coronavirus must be treated as the threat that it is.

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