By Joe Rector

The plain truth is that we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis. This coronavirus is sweeping the planet with illness for which we have no answers as of yet. The U.S. failed to react quickly enough and is now playing catch up. It appears that each day’s news shows an ever-growing number of new cases and deaths associated with the virus.

In the last few days, dramatic measures have been taken. All sports events have been canceled; some states have closed bars and restaurants; some areas have enacted curfews; and schools for millions of students have been closed, many for the remainder of the year. In short, the American way of life is turned upside down.

Maybe the most difficult aspect of this crisis is coping with the request to stay at home. Many adults disagree with that because they depend on a weekly paycheck to pay bills and buy food. Only a small number can work from home, and forecasts predict that a million jobs will be eliminated. Those individuals feel that they have no choice but to work and roll the dice about contracting the virus.

The concerns over education is another area. Schools are natural breeding grounds for such illnesses, even if the data shows that younger people fare much better against it. Parents are angered that their children are at home with no place to go while adults work. Some worry about the loss of education that takes place; they realize that online classes lack the instruction and help that are needed for especially difficult courses.

Teens are miserable right now. Their activities have been suspended. Sports teams that practiced for the spring season face the possibility that they won’t play another game. Proms might well be canceled. Most disconcerting to many young people is the lack of connection with friends. Boredom at home leads to grumpy, moody, and combative teens. Going from active lives to ones spent with parents and brothers and sisters is difficult.

What all groups need to realize is that this coronavirus is not a hoax. It is a killer that has taken lives in multiple countries. The U.S. is not exempt from these effects, but they can be mitigated if citizens follow recommendations of experts. No, children don’t have to stay in their houses. They can play outside if the weather allows. Teens have plenty of devices that can connect them with friends. Adults can spend time educating their children in life skills, things that don’t appear in the schools’ curricula. Those who are in a lower risk group can stay in contact with older neighbors and family members to make sure they have food, medicine, and supplies. They can run errands for senior citizens who are at a much higher risk.

This crisis is a serious one for us all. It has interrupted our lives in unsuspected ways. What we might do is take advantage of the time to rest and renew ourselves. We can strengthen relationships between our family members. If nothing else, each of us can do those things that will help to more quickly end the misery of the coronavirus so that we can return to normal life. Until then, be safe and be healthy.