by Frank Williams

COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, has dominated news coverage and virtually all other conversation over the past two weeks. The state and federal governments have issued guidance and, in some cases, sweeping executive orders to protect against the spread of this virus.

How to Approach COVID-19
Some are completely disregarding COVID-19 as a non-issue. Others are so panicked they are willing to instigate a fistfight over a pack of toilet paper. The correct approach lies in the middle.

Prepare, Don’t Panic
Here is my view. This is a newly discovered virus. Based on what our health professionals tell me, COVID-19 seems to spread at a faster rate than the flu, and it has a higher mortality rate than the flu. There is currently no known cure or vaccine. Preparation and precautions are absolutely warranted. This is a time to prepare, not panic.

Flattening the Curve
The precautions we’ve seen taken over the past week are intended to “flatten the curve.” In other words, they are intended to reduce the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading in hope that it will not overwhelm our healthcare system. If it had spread at the highest possible rate, America could have been faced with a situation in which we had more patients in need of hospital beds than available beds.

Rights and Responsibilities
I am a conservative who tends to err on the side of protecting our freedom (I believe that is the most important, fundamental role of government). However, I also believe that every right is accompanied by a corresponding individual responsibility to use that right wisely. Personal freedom is not a license to irresponsibly endanger the lives of others. We, as citizens, have a responsibility to each other during a situation like the one we face. It has been gratifying to see people stepping up to help others. That’s what makes America great.

Considering Others
I am not in the demographic considered to be most vulnerable to COVID-19. However, when I think of this virus, I don’t think of myself. I think of my father and my wife’s grandfather, who celebrated their 88th and 95th birthdays last week, respectively. Our planned combined birthday lunch for them was a casualty of COVID-19, and canceling it was the right thing to do. I don’t want to take a chance on unknowingly exposing either of them — or any of the other people in the assisted living facility where my wife’s grandfather resides — to this virus.

This Too Shall Pass
I’ve served as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners through Hurricanes Florence and Dorian. With hurricanes, you know they’re coming, you have a good idea of what they’ll do while they’re here, and a general idea of when they’re going to depart. While we don’t know when this COVID-19 situation will pass, it will pass, and I have no doubt that Brunswick County and the great people who live here will weather this storm and come out stronger on the other side.