Keep your distance, islanders. It could save a life

  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020 12:29pm
  • Opinion

It finally hit us — in a little island wave, so to speak.

The first confirmed case of coronavirus locally was reported by a Vashon-based company, except the individual does not live on the island and reportedly was never sick when he worked at Sawbones, a subsidiary of Pacific Research, Inc.

But that’s big news for Vashon-Maury Island, considering it’s in an unincorporated part of King County, the jurisdiction that saw the first U.S. person die from the virus and has since become a hot spot for it to spread.

So, while it’s newsworthy, a confirmed case of COVID-19 is, in many ways, certainly no surprise.

At the same time, islanders continued to respond to coronavirus — by clearing shelves of items at our two major grocery stores as local groups and businesses continued to announce the suspension of their activities.

Islanders also responded to coronavirus by clearing out. Hunkering down. Going dark. Whatever you want to call it.

That’s because, on Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine announced measures to contain the spread of coronavirus. Restaurants and bars were just a few of the places that ceased operations, with a few exceptions, until March 31. Grocery stores, banks and pharmacies, however, could remain open.

The directive also covered gatherings of over 50 people and fewer than that, with the former banned until further notice and the latter able to convene only if previously announced standards of hygiene and social distancing were met.

Wait — “social distancing,” what?

Yes, distancing. As in keeping away from one another, just not completely.

Luckily, local businesses and groups had announced taking such measures for the next few weeks well ahead of Constantine’s and Inslee’s announcement. But for a lot of us as individuals, this can be a difficult concept to practice.

That is because we are humans. We’re social animals. We crave interactions with others, whether it’s friends, family or colleagues. Go to the four-way stop and what do you see? The Hardware Store Restaurant, The Ruby Brink and Herban Bloom. Islanders are built to dine together, drink together and give each other hugs and flowers.

But, now, it is best for us all to heed the words of our county executive: “Go to work if you must. But hunker down if you are able. Postpone anything you can.”

Constantine went on to ask county residents to “treat the next two weeks as a period of self-quarantine.” Some islanders are already doing that.

But your actions during this pandemic don’t have to be that drastic. A good-faith effort can help — it could even save lives. If you have to meet with someone, for instance, be sure to keep a 6-foot distance from them.

At The Beachcomber, we take these measures seriously, too. While some newsrooms are operating remotely, we’re still here. But this week, on the advice of our parent company, Sound Publishing, we decided to lock the door to our office until further notice. You can still drop off your correspondence through the door slot or call or email us.

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