So far, deep southernmost Illinois has avoided the coronavirus or COVID-19. Being the eternal optimist, I am hoping we can stay that way. But I am probably wrong.
Before the big run on products in stores began I went to local stores to buy some items we needed. That included toilet paper. I was shocked to see Dollar General was almost devoid of bathroom necessities. I was able to pick up a medium size package of toilet paper. The next day I don’t think there was any left in town.
Seeing the panic buying and the empty shelves was the beginning of my realization of how serious the changes would be for all of us.
Limiting social contact appears to be the only way to slow the spread of COVID-19. Everything from grocery shopping, going to church, going for medical care, or to work now requires thought and planning.
We now must learn to stay home. This is not an easy adjustment, but it is necessary if we intend to survive this crisis.
When Gov. JB Pritzker announced emergency measures including closing restaurant dining rooms, I thought he was jumping the gun as far as southernmost Illinois was concerned. But, almost immediately it was announced that there were cases in Jackson and Williamson counties. And, that is too close.
I still think the governor was wrong to close the state parks in southern and central Illinois. Places like Fort Massac are ideal to get away from home for exercise without having to be close to others.
For me, the hardest part of protecting against the new virus may be avoiding other people. I am not used to staying home. Carolyn and I own apartments in Mound City. So I usually go there two days a week. To keep our maintenance man in supplies I often visit Hitterman’s and big box stores in Paducah. Not only are those trips being limited, but when I have to go, extra precautions will be taken in dealing with residents, clerks, etc.
When we get a case of coronavirus in the Metropolis area, Massac Memorial Hospital is taking extraordinary measures to keep it from spreading to hospital employees, and to care for community members who become ill. The hospital has a hotline to provide answers regarding COVID-19. The number is 618-638-1344.
One thing we can’t avoid is the financial hardships now hitting our local businesses. Having businesses closed, or limited to drive-thrus, can be a financial disaster. With El Toro Loco, the Mexican restaurant uptown being brand new, and El Tequila under new ownership, the economic downturn will be an extra obstacle for them to overcome. And, of course, many employees everywhere are being laid off and losing paychecks. Congress is working to provide extra benefits for the businesses and employees, but no one knows exactly what will be coming, or when.
What can the average resident of the area do? Stay home as much as possible. Stay away from people when you have to go into public. Wash your hands often. Use hand sanitizer when out of the house. And, donate money to churches or other organizations that are helping people with the basic supplies to stay alive.