Suzetter Porter sig

For the past two weeks, we’ve been mostly confined to our homes. We’re only allowed to go out for what the government says is essential.

Fortunately, that does include some recreational activities.

But our beaches are closed. The bars are closed. You can’t eat in a restaurant dining room. You can’t get your hair done or buy flowers. You can’t go to your friends’ house just for a visit. Our social lives are in the dumps.

And everybody wants to move past all that and get back to normal, whatever that might be when officials say it is safe to leave our homes.

But we need not be too hasty. I can’t imagine how tragic it would be if impatience to get the economy back up and running would cause those in charge to lift stay-at-home orders before it is truly safe.

Yes, people are hurting. Many have gone way too long without a paycheck. The unemployment system has failed. Too few have been able to apply and too few have received a check. It is understandable that they want to get back to work — need to get back to work.

Business owners can only go so long with their doors closed. Nothing is stopping their bills from coming in and loans available from the government aren’t forthcoming. Even if they qualify, it will take time. They need to open their doors and start making money again.

The need is great. The sacrifice has been enormous for us all.

No one could have ever imagined the horror of a novel virus for which we have no immunity, no vaccine and no proven treatment methods taking over our world. It’s more like something out of a science fiction book. But it is our reality.

Some have said coronavirus is no worse than the flu. And that might be true, if you compare it to the time before there was a flu vaccine and doctors knew how to treat it.

The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe in recent history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It spread worldwide in 1918-1919. An estimated 500 million people, about one-third of the world’s population, was infected. Deaths numbered 50 million with 675,000 of those occurring in the United States.

No vaccine existed. No antibiotics were available for secondary infections. At least we have antibiotics now. The only method that existed to combat the pandemic was quarantines, isolation, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants and social distancing.

The flu vaccine makes all the difference. It’s the only reason more people don’t get sick and die during a regular flu season each year.

So, even though it’s 2020, we have to do things the old-fashioned way. Again, there is no vaccine and no treatment. Health experts can only prescribe quarantines, isolation, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants and social distancing.

There are some subtle signs that the prescription is working. But that doesn’t mean the danger is over. It’s not time to come out of our shelters to celebrate that the big ole monster is gone.

We don’t yet know if the coast is clear. And we want to make darn sure the boogeyman is not hiding behind a bush when we walk out our front door. To be stomped flat by Godzilla after all we’ve been through would be nothing short of tragic.

We’re made it this long. We can make it a bit longer.

One thing the coronavirus has shown us is our weaknesses and our strengths. We weren’t prepared. But we’re stepping up and fighting with all our might anyway.

There is no sense pointing fingers now. Coulda, woulda, shoulda will have its time and place when we all sit down and go over the lessons learned. And I hope we do learn and never get caught so ill-prepared again.

Meanwhile, we should keep doing what we’re doing. Help one another if we can. Reach out for help if you need it.

I get that people hate rules. I don’t like people telling me what I can do. I’m an adult. I should be able to know what’s best for me. But in this case, I have no experience or expertise.

If I’m a wise adult, I’ll do what someone who knows something about infectious diseases says to do. I’ll listen to those who learned the lessons from the past influenza pandemics. I’ll listen to those who are responsible to look out for the public’s health and safety. It’s the right thing to do.

And while I’d love to leave my home and go out for dinner and drink an adult beverage with my friends, I know I can’t right now. I know it is better to wait until it is safe. I know it is better to hold off until I know there are no deadly germs waiting for me out there.

I want to live. I want my neighbors to live. I want to survive.

And I sure as hell don’t want all this agony we’ve all endured to be for nothing.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.