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OUR VIEW

We must fight this together

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March hasn’t been good to Nebraskans the last couple of years.

First, there was the devastating flood that ravished Northeast Nebraska in 2019. Now, Nebraska, along with the United States and the world, is facing the COVID-19 pandemic. This illness has killed tens of thousands of people across the world and disrupted the lives of millions of people and businesses as it continues to spread.

As of noon on March 26, there have been 85 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Nebraska, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Positive cases have been confirmed in Douglas (46), Sarpy (9), Washington (5), Buffalo (4), Lincoln (3), Lancaster (3), Adams (2), Cass (2), Saunders (2), Hall (2), Knox (2), Dodge (1), Nemaha (1), Dawson (1), Kearney (1) and Madison (1) counties.

Although medical professionals have previously stated the virus is probably in Platte County despite no confirmed cases as of Friday afternoon, we should assume it is and be taking precaution.

Just like the 2019 historic flooding, we have faith that we as a country – a state – a community – will find a way to get through this. Those in Platte County have shown their resilience in this era of social distancing and quarantining as demonstrated by the numerous stories that have appeared in The Telegram in the last two weeks:

*Columbus Public Schools and Lakeview Community Schools are keeping thousands of kids fed even with school out indefinitely with their pick-up lunch and next-day breakfast service.

*Teachers are trying to keep students inspired by driving their cars around school areas and having a “parade” of sorts.

*Communities, including Duncan and Columbus, are putting teddy bears in the windows of their homes for kids and families to find as part of a friendly “hunt” to help pass the time.

*Businesses have adjusted and are offering carry-out and delivery services. In return, residents are taking advantage of those options.

*An area couple went to local retirement homes and performed hymns for residents from outside of the building.

*Police officers, firefighters, sheriff’s deputies and other first responders are doing their best to stay safe and healthy while also serving and protecting our community.

* Although many people are able to self-quarantine, there are many who have professions that are considered “essential.” We applaud anyone who is going to work, whether at a factory or an office or in high-traffic areas like grocery stores, gas stations and big-box retailers like Walmart so that shelves can be stocked and the rest of us can get what we need.

* Our area health and medical professionals should be applauded for their services. They’re on the frontlines, screening people for COVID-19 while also providing care to those who need it. Remember, medical care can’t cease because of a pandemic. It just increases the need for more good people in the field.

The sad thing is we have no idea when this is going to end, BUT we’re certain it will once again take all of us working together. So, do your part. Quarantine and practice social distancing as much as you can. Wash your hands regularly, use carry-out and delivery services to support local businesses and avoid going out in general if you don’t need to be.

Most importantly, don’t be naïve to think you’re entitled to ignore what’s happening around the country. You may be OK if you were to contract this illness, but with the death toll rising by the day, you could potentially spread it to someone who might NOT be OK. We MUST “flatten the curve,” and it doesn’t work if everyone is not willing to do so.

Meanwhile, The Columbus Telegram will continue to do its part. We, too, are practicing social distancing, and in the case of our newsroom, are working remotely. We have closed our lobby to the public.

Our newsroom, despite the challenges of working remotely, is committed to providing essential information and community developments in print and on our website, columbustelegram.com. If you have a story ideas for us, email it to news@columbustelegram.com.

This too shall pass – but only if all of us do our part.

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Managing Editor

Matt Lindberg is an award-winning journalist and graduate of the University of Kansas.

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