We will overcome COVID-19 together

Gray Hughes

On Monday, my office was about to run out of toilet paper.


Ordinarily, this would be no big deal, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding toilet paper in town became a tall order to fill.


I went out in search of toilet paper. I hoped and prayed that, somewhere, I would find some.


My first stop didn’t have any, which I expected. People have been buying up all the toilet paper everywhere. Toilet paper has turned into one of those things people have been buying in spades.


Thank God, my second stop had plenty of toilet paper with a note saying to only take one pack of toilet paper per day. Since it’s just me in the office, I only need one pack to last me for a while.


I grabbed my pack and went to the cashier. I made some remark along the lines of “It’s a bad day to legitimately need toilet paper.”


The cashier laughed and said she has heard that several times that day.


Walking out to my car, I felt relieved that I got the toilet paper I needed. But then another thought entered my mind: we are so fortunate and blessed we live in a country where 99.9 percent of the time we don’t have to worry about stores not having the basic essentials we need.


Take this last week out of the equation. Aside from when severe weather is coming (when back home on the East Coast we ran out of milk, eggs and bread so people, I guess, can make French toast and eggs during a storm), I can’t think of a single time a store did not have what I need.


It’s those simple blessings that we take for granted day in and day out.


As news comes in regarding governors shutting down restaurants and it seems like mass quarantines aren’t out of the question, I think about how we are so lucky that isn’t the case the vast majority of the time.


As I sit writing this piece on Tuesday, 11 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in South Dakota, including one death — a Pennington County man who, from all reports, was already in ill health. Community transmission, too, doesn’t seem to be an issue here at the time of this writing.


We in South Dakota are so blessed that — as of Monday — 494 people in our state have tested negative for the disease.


And we need to work hard to keep it that way. I’m not worried about myself or other people my age. All reports indicate that people my age, a little older and younger get the disease we often don’t show symptoms, we don’t get sick (or as sick) and we can return to our daily lives before too long.


What I’m worried about, though, are the elderly people. From all reports, those are the people that are in true danger of the disease.


There’s a post I saw circulating of Facebook. It says something along the lines of our elders were called to war to save our lives and we need to stay home on the couch to save theirs.


This is 100 percent correct.


I am also worried about those who cannot work because their place of business shut down. I am blessed in the fact that news is needed now more than ever, legal advertisements need to be run, etc.


But I know there are millions of Americans right now who won’t have a paycheck next week. My heart breaks for them, and I am praying for them. I honestly don’t know what to do about them. That decision is a decision people who are much smarter than me will have to make.


This is a scary time, for sure, but we cannot live our lives in fear. Fear itself can be worse than any disease. Fear eradicates hope, freezes us and causes us to act irrationally. But we can take measures to ensure that our elders are safe.


Don’t do anything that might put other people at risk. Wash your hands often (or use hand sanitizer if there is no soap), practice social distancing and don’t put anyone needlessly at risk.


Trust in our medical professionals. They are prepared to deal with this. This is something our doctors and nurses  have been taught how to deal with. I trust in them now more than ever.


Trust in our elected officials. They, too, have plans in place to deal with this. This is something, too, that they have been preparing for. If there is an order passed down by the government, I trust that they know what they are doing.


Normally, I’m of the mindset that I know what’s best for me and not the government, but, right now, I’m casting that to the side. If the government tells me to do something right now, I’m going to do it.


In the meantime, I’ll be here. I’ll be at the office Monday through Friday to bring you the news. My door is open (unless I’m out running an errand or on an interview). I might not shake your hand like I typically like to do, but I will do everything in my power to ensure everyone has the proper education as to how to deal with this.


During the weekends, I’ll do my best to share the things that you need to know from home.


Now is the time to not panic. Relax, take some time to spend with your families. Read, watch a movie or a TV show and only go out into public when you need to.


Use this as an excuse to do what we always want to do and stay home if you have plans.


Pray for our nation, our world and all that live in it if you’re like me and you’re the praying type.


We have overcome worse. We will overcome this. I know this may be a scary time (and I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little scared), but — together — we can overcome this.

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