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This nation hasn't been as upended and unified in attention in about 80 years, since the early 1940s, World War II

For me, it be came real on Wednesday, March 11. That's an important date in this crisis for Americans.

I had dinner and went downstairs to get a sports fix and relax. Earlier, I'd heard that the NCAA was going to hold its basketball tournaments without fans. I was curious (bummed) about that, so I turned on ESPN. An NBA game was scheduled, but instead of action, there was an odd confusion, and sports reporters were talking about how a Utah Jazz player had tested positive for the coronavirus. The game was canceled, and yes, the season was being put on hold.

Whoa.

Then I punch in CNN. Tom Hanks reportedly had tested positive. Tom Hanks? Forrest Gump. Captain America. Tom Hanks. It may have happened in Australia, but if Tom Hanks tested positive, no American was safe.

Then came Thursday, March 12, and the cascade of sports closures. Within about 24 hours, no March Madness at all, no NBA, no NHL, no opening day of baseball or Masters golf in early April.

March 13. Schools canceled for two weeks, the 250-person limit announced, recreation sites closed. By Sunday, March 15, churches were closing, and some states were demanding that all restaurants and bars be closed.

On Friday, when the school closure until April 1 was announced, for many, the sports angle was still at the forefront. In Oregon, fans had to feel bad for the Duck basketball teams, especially the ladies who had a tremendous chance of winning the national title. I felt for prep athletes, especially seniors, potentially being robbed of their final prep sports experience.

But sports rapidly were pushed to the rear of concern. By the weekend, the concern morphed to the fear for the health of our national economy, and even greater than that, the widespread threat to public health that the coronavirus has wrought. Substantially reducing the spread of the virus, potentially saving who knows how many lives, is worth it, of course. Americans, by and large, seem generally understanding and ready to do what's necessary — somewhat amazing, considering how divided, bull-headed, and spoiled by/protective of our freedoms that we are.

This nation hasn't been as upended and unified in attention in about 80 years, since the early 1940s, World War II. That epic period took nearly five years. Maybe this one will be essentially harnessed in five weeks. But then, at this point, one can't help wondering if won't be more like five months.

Certainly what is impressive is how fast — in this age of information — that the public is made aware and, frankly, learns, how rapidly new phrases pushed their way into our lexicon: social distancing, community spreading, flattening the curve.

But there is and will be a lot of collateral damage caused by this virus and the war against it — the greatest of which has been the deaths and those to come.

Across the nation, restaurants, nongrocery retailers, recreation businesses and many others are taking a huge hit as people are staying home or consciously reducing their interpersonal time. It's brutal on the economy, and obviously to some businesses more than others. Many businesses across the nation won't emerge on the other side. Hopefully, that won't be the case in Crook County.  

In the meantime, we need to be conscientious community members. Consume information and do your best to adhere to instruction. Think about your neighbors, especially the elderly, and see what you can do for them to allow them to stay home. Be smart, be safe, but don't let this crisis paralyze us.

And don't let the situation crush your spirit. Sure, it was a snowy, icy-cold weekend in Central Oregon, but spring is knocking. Get out and get fresh air, take a walk or hike; go for a jog or a run. Move. Go play with your dogs in the back 40, finish a major project or two.

When this crisis subsides, when the doors are reopened figuratively and literally, the leaves will be green and the flowers will be brilliantly bursting through. The economy — and our joy burnished by a renewed appreciation of life — should reignite nearly as rapidly as this crisis shut us down.


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