Federal, state and local officials have been swiftly moving to combat the spread of COVID-19. We urge continued speedy agreement among our leaders as we work together to address this very serious health concern against this new virus.

We commend Minnesota leaders for quickly and unanimously passing a supplemental spending allocation of $21 million for emergency public health response last week. This is indeed a time for bipartisanship.

It was encouraging to hear that many major corporations are quickly working to develop additional testing options and making those available in much greater quantity.

If we’ve ever needed total and complete coordination between private and public entities, this is it. We need our best minds unleashed to combat this tiny, unseen enemy.

As we watch these leaders and officials from afar, we need to take our own personal role and responsibility seriously. This takes many forms, the first of which is to listen to our health experts and not second-guess their recommendations.

By now, we should all be fully cognizant of the basic rules we must obey: Wash your hands, avoid crowds and be extremely careful if visiting the elderly. Take care of your own health but don’t overreact to fear. Test kits will be easier to access this week, but they still need to be prioritized to those who have specific COVID-19 symptoms or are otherwise compromised.

Perhaps our greatest contribution as individuals is to stay compassionate to our neighbors and friends, and offer gratitude to those we rely upon.

This could be as simple as a kind word to the frazzled store clerk who’s trying to explain that there isn’t any toilet paper hiding in a backroom.

We can try to continue to support our local businesses, following safety protocols but still paying for goods and services. We can buy gift cards to our favorite local establishments to offer our support and show our confidence in their value and their future. We can make cash donations to our area food shelves.

If there’s a way to help a neighbor, we should do so. It may be as simple as a phone call to a senior citizen down the street, checking to see if he or she is OK. Many people will suffer from the lack of human interaction. A friendly voice on the phone might be the highlight of another person’s day.

We must stop sharing information on social media that is false or inflammatory.

We can be reasonable when we get to the store. We can buy only the supplies we really need for a few weeks – not a year’s worth of bathroom tissue or disinfectants. We can leave products for the next family.

We should encourage and appreciate people who continue to work, especially those we often take for granted: Garbage haulers, servers, retail clerks, plumbers, electricians, delivery drivers, long-haul truckers, warehouse workers, utility and maintenance personnel. These are the people who must be on the ground working to keep our services and supply chains operating.

Many thanks to the journalists at our own publications and news media throughout the nation who are working 24/7 to bring us accurate and timely information through print editions, websites and broadcast media.

And finally, we need to trust the experts. We need to support our local, state and federal leaders as they struggle with multiple complex issues. We should listen to health care professionals and not crowd into urgent care units when we are not symptomatic.

We are in uncharted and unprecedented times. The situation will change daily. We need to do our part – staying calm, staying safe and being compassionate to help all of us through this crisis. — An opinion of the Adams Publishing-ECM Editorial Board. Reactions welcome. Send to editorial.board@ecm-inc.com.

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