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These are strange times we’re living in now. As the threat of COVID-19 grows, so do many people’s fears as changes and challenges to our daily lives are happening at a rapid pace.

Many people have lost their job, others are struggling to find child care, small businesses are being shuttered or having to operate at minimum staff due to restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of this virus. On the opposite spectrum, those in other industries, such as health care, grocery clerks, essential manufacturing industries and others are working at an intense pace to ensure that we all have access to the things we need.

There are things, though, that people can do to help stop spreading fear. First, stop hoarding food and supplies that every household will need. Anyone who’s been to a grocery store in the past two weeks has seen shelves of essential products and foods that have been wiped clean.

As more people do this, it begins a “herd” mentality where everyone feels they have to overstock their pantries, freezers and closets for fear of not getting more. But by doing so, it’s basically showing a blatant disregard for others, especially those who have a harder time getting to stores and have limited resources. While we may not be able to cure the virus ourselves, we can do our part to make sure we’re not creating problems for others.

To say our lives have changed in the last couple of weeks would be an understatement. We’re accustomed to a routine and any change to that can feel unsettling, but this crisis has led to more of a total upheaval of our daily lives, leading many to be fearful and to wonder when it all will end. There is no certain answer to that, but what is certain is that we need to do our part to help contain the virus and also show our humanity toward others who are suffering. There are many out there now who are doing what they can to help others, which is the focus everyone should have to help rise from the crisis as the strong community we’ve always been.

Another thing people can do is to stop the spread of misinformation on the virus or trying to politicize it. It shouldn’t be news to anyone that social media, while a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and family and a way to find some comic relief, is not a place where people should be turning to for facts. You don’t have to scroll far down your timeline to find a post regarding COVID-19 that has no basis in fact. Sadly, though, some people still take the information as truth and then share it, continuing to spread misinformation. To do so is as dangerous as those who refuse to take seriously the call for social distancing and staying at home during the crisis.

During these times, it’s imperative for people to remain calm and put the safety of their family, friends and the general public as a whole, first. That’s what’s been asked of us from government and medical officials so that we can get back to our lives as soon as possible. Any negligence in those recommendations can put others’ lives in danger.

In our community, we have yet to see any reported cases of the novel coronavirus, but there have been cases in surrounding communities and other counties in the state. We hope Burke County stays free of the virus, but we must prepare for the possibility of it seeping into our community and take every precaution we can.

In the meantime, know that The News Herald is committed to continue bringing our community the most up-to-date, fact-based information regarding this crisis as we’ve done from the start. Our reporters are all-hands-on-deck for the coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and everything being done to ensure the safety of residents. All of the stories regarding the virus are available for free on our website, www.morganton.com, although we encourage anyone who can to help support the role community journalism plays in our day-to-day lives.

As a fellow editor said last week about COVID-19, we’re on the second mile of a 100-mile marathon. That seems like an understatement, not only to those who are working hard to meet the needs of others, but also those who are at home trying to ride out this storm. Just like any other race, though, it, too, will come to an end. Until then, stay informed by trusted news sources, follow directives of local and state officials, and be sure to be mindful of others, as we’re all in this race together.

Editor Lisa Wall can be reached at 828-432-8939 or at lwall@morganton.com.

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