Shoals-area residents looking for a fresh perspective on the developing coronavirus pandemic should embrace this one from Florence businessman Rick Elliott:

“Let’s not look at this as the sky is falling,” said Elliott last week. “Let’s look at this as an opportunity for us to shine.”

Elliott’s suggestion is certainly a tough one to accept in these unnerving times. Schools and day care centers are closed, leaving thousands of parents grappling with child care issues. Many government offices have opted to shut their doors for safety purposes, forcing the public to conduct their business in more impersonal ways.

Businesses are reducing hours, or closing altogether. Sporting events have been cancelled, and other forms of entertainment delayed or halted. Fewer visitors are being allowed for loved ones in hospitals, assisted living centers, nursing homes and jails. Dining out is becoming a drive-through or pick-up experience.

In short, life in general just isn’t quite the same as it was a month ago. And additional ripple-down effects are almost certain to be felt in the weeks ahead.

But Elliott is right to urge the Shoals not to fall victim to the Chicken Little mentality. Dark clouds may be looming overhead, but the sky is not falling. And how we, as individuals and as communities, react to the challenges this pandemic presents will likely shape us for years to come.

Vigilance rather than panic remains the most appropriate response to the threat. Concern is fine, but fear isn’t.

We have to be prepared to accept and deal with the disruptions that we’ve already experienced, and those yet to come. And we must be supportive of the measures our government, community and business leaders are implementing. Each of these measures has one goal in mind – to protect both their employees and their customers.

From a personal standpoint, the importance of being cautious cannot be emphasized enough.

Practice safe, healthy habits now. Wash your hands often. Avoid touching your face. Don’t share drinks. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. And if you’re sick, do not go to work or school. And heed the warning of health officials to keep a safe distance of six feet from others.

Commonsense preventative measures aren’t glamorous. Indeed, they might make you seem a little stodgy to family and friends. But they’re proven to make a difference, and they could literally save your life, or the lives of those around you.

This is the time for everyone in the Shoals to come together and help each other. They will be plenty of “opportunities … to shine.” And when you are kind and caring to those around you, it helps you and others to feel calm and happy.

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