PD Editorial: Coronavirus will require sacrifices, large and small

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It wasn’t long after Gov. Gavin Newsom asked bars, tasting rooms and brew pubs to close when we heard the first complaint that patrons of these establishments tend to be younger people, who are less susceptible to the worst effects of the coronavirus.

That may be true, but those younger people can transmit the virus — even if they aren’t showing symptoms — to people they encounter elsewhere.

The purpose of the increasingly restrictive directives from public health officials is to limit transmission of COVID-19, a highly contagious fatal respiratory infection.

As of Monday, with limited access to screening, more than 4,000 Americans have tested positive. Without immediate and robust action, epidemiologists warn that the U.S. could soon approach the level of infections that prompted a nationwide lockdown in Italy.

Controlling the spread will require sacrifices, large and small.

This is St. Patrick’s Day, for many Americans an occasion for wearing green and raising a glass at a party or in a crowded bar. With the governor’s request backstopped in most of the Bay Area by shelter-in-place orders issued Monday, holiday gatherings are off the table for some 6.7 million people.

The shelter-in-place orders didn’t extend to Sonoma County, but don’t test your luck with the coronavirus.

That isn’t advice for a single day. Life as we’re used to it is on hold, maybe for a long while.

Still more schools closing were announced Monday. More people are working from home. One of Sonoma County’s largest gathering places, the Graton casino, announced that it would close. In addition to asking bars and tasting rooms to close, Newsom urged seniors and people with chronic health conditions to isolate themselves, and he prohibited most visitors in hospitals and nursing homes.

On Monday, President Donald Trump announced new federal guidelines, urging people to avoid groups of larger than 10, to stop eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts and to avoid unnecessary travel.

Frustrating? Sure. A little frightening, too. But we’re all in this together — even those who may not consider themselves at great risk.

“I want to speak particularly to our largest generation now, our millennials,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House corona virus task force, said Monday. “I am the mom of two wonderful millennial young women who are bright and hard working, and I will tell you what I told to them: They are the core group that will stop this virus.

“They are the group that communicates successfully independent of picking up a phone,” Birx continued, urging millennials to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, in public or in homes. “They intuitively know how to contact each (other) without being in large social gatherings.”

As the virus runs its course, everyone needs to take steps to restrict its spread. For those who have been exposed, that means quarantines. For everyone else, avoiding large gatherings is crucial. Maintain social distances, wash your hands frequently. Stay home.

If you want to support local businesses, many restaurants are offering takeout meals and home delivery. Consider buying gift certificates to help support stores, theaters and other businesses forced to close or scale back. Most important: Do the right thing, and eventually the coronavirus will pass.

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