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Editorial: Everyone must do their part to stop virus

Salisbury and Rowan County aren’t going to “flatten the curve” very much if locals don’t take the advice of health care professionals and local, state and federal officials: stay home unless it’s essential.

That doesn’t mean that families and individuals should lock themselves inside. Take a walk at a safe distance from others. Enjoy a spring day in your backyard. Call family members you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Staying at home, however, does mean that optional trips to the store should be avoided. Instead of making trips to Lowe’s for gardening and home improvement supplies, make a plan to complete projects after the spread of COVID-19 subsides or work on things that can be completed with items already in your home.

Parents should communicate the seriousness of the virus to their children and ensure they aren’t gathering in large groups in local parking lots — a common sight lately. A teenager might not become seriously ill from COVID-19, but his or her parents or grandparents are at a higher risk.

Businesses must prioritize the health and safety of their employees, telling them to work from home unless it’s not otherwise possible. If employees must come into work to provide an essential service to the general public — stocking grocery shelves, working as cashiers at stores, keeping electricity and clean water flowing to homes or serving the public as a police officer, firefighter or EMS technician, among other things — managers must implement requirements about cleanliness and social distancing.

Stores and restaurants that are still open must require customers to stand several feet from one another, too. With church services and large events move online or canceled for weeks, stores like Walmart are now home to the largest gatherings of people. And close contact in a grocery store should be avoided just the same as other places.

Fully abiding by the governor’s stay-at-home order will inconvenience people. It will be boring. Families will get tired of talking to and looking at one another. Importantly, the economy and its workers will take a harder hit than it has already. Businesses will shutter, some for good, but the alternative is an inaffective, prolonged shutdown that results in more people getting sick, hospitals being overloaded and more people dying than neccesary.

Too many people won’t take the threat of COVID-19 seriously until they or a someone they know are confirmed positive or they show up at the hospital for another serious matter that requires a ventilator and there are none available. That may be in our future if the general public doesn’t treat the stay-at-home order as what it is: a gubernatorial declaration that aims to keep as many North Carolinians healthy as possible.

It’s going to take everyone doing their part to “flatten the curve” for life to return to normal in Salisbury and Rowan County.

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