Interesting times we are quarantined in, huh?

Published 8:54 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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What a difference a week makes.

This time last week we were going out to vote in the presidential primary election and COVID-19 was just background noise.

In case you didn’t know, “COVID-19” stands for coronavirus disease 2019. A doctor told us that. Somehow, I had imagined the name was more scientific than that.

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Regardless, later last week, the COVID-19 crossed the border into our state.

All of the sudden COVID-19 wasn’t some remote threat to people trapped on cruise ships or people in China. It was a threat to all of us.

Everyone seemed to wake up to that fact at about the same time last week and promptly ran out and bought up all the toilet paper on the grocery store aisles and a whole lot of other merchandise to boot.

Then the cancellations and postponements began as people realized the severity of the potential for the COVID-19 to spread.

Since it is a new strain of the coronavirus, no one has immunity to COVID-19 and so it is easily passed on from person to person.

To make matters worse, COVID-19 can incubate in people for days before they develop symptoms and during that incubation period, unsuspecting carriers can spread it to other people.

Older people and people with preexisting conditions such as diabetes, asthma and congestive heart failure, to name a few, are more likely to suffer severe symptoms of the disease and can even die from it.

Therefore, officials are urging shutdowns of any gatherings of large groups of people. First officials said people should not gather in groups of 250 people or more and now they have refined that down to 10 people or more.

The NCAA March Madness was canceled. NBA games? Canceled. MLB games? Canceled. High school athletics? Canceled. Johnny’s birthday party? Canceled.

The stock market did not take kindly to the news of cancellations and shutdowns and stocks have taken historic dives in recent days.

Last Thursday was possibly the biggest news day of my 30-plus year career in the news business, and I’ve lived through and covered Princess Diana’s death, 9-11, Hurricane Katrina and Osama Bin Laden’s capture and killing.

Now we all sit in sequestration, waiting to see just how bad all of this COVID-19 pandemic might turn out to be.

As bad as it seems to have all of our socializing — from church events to major sporting events — taken from us, not to mention the scarcity of toilet paper, it will all be worth it if we can keep COVID-19 from spreading at such a pace as to overcrowd the hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Also, it will all be worth it if we can save the most-at-risk people from contracting the virus and possibly dying from it.

Fortunately, we are learning from other parts of the world that experienced it first and what to do and what not to do to limit the exposure.

Eventually, this too shall pass. Hopefully, we will spare as many lives as possible as we endure the preventive measures.

Hang in there.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or