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The coronavirus has infected several Idahoans and has sent a wave of fear throughout our state and nation.

Many Idaho school districts have announced plans to shut down their schools because of the virus, which has achieved pandemic status, and the empty shelves at grocery stores throughout the state attest to the seriousness many Idahoans are taking matters.

Health officials are asking all of us to do some simple things to try to stop the virus’ spread — wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, cover your mouth when you cough and above all else, stay home if you’re not feeling well.

While the coronavirus is first and foremost a very serious public health threat, this pathogen could prove equally deadly for our local and national economies.

You’d have to literally have your head in the sand to not have noticed the historic losses being experienced on the stock exchange.

Our country has been through a lot of economic ups and downs throughout its history including the Great Depression and more recently the Great Recession, but the nose-diving stock prices we’re all witnessing right now have never been seen before on such a large scale.

The market’s downward spiral is of dire concern to the many Americans who are relying on it to fund their retirements.

If you somehow haven’t noticed Wall Street’s demise as coronavirus fears have escalated statewide and nationwide, you surely have witnessed what’s going on at local businesses.

Aside from grocery stores selling out of everything from toilet paper to produce, many of the stores and restaurants all of us frequent have begun to see a decline in customers.

It’s no secret that many East Idaho businesses can ill afford more than a short economic downturn.

We’re afraid to think of what it would mean to local businesses if the coronavirus outbreak caused an extended economic crisis. Many local businesses would not survive.

Fortunately, we can all take action to keep local businesses in business just like we can take action to reduce our chances of contracting the coronavirus.

It’s called spending money at East Idaho’s stores and restaurants.

If you’re afraid that spending time in public at your favorite restaurant will increase your chances of acquiring coronavirus, have some food delivered or order takeout. Make a genuine effort to do your shopping locally instead of online. Even something as simple as buying a gift card at a local business that you can use later will make a difference.

The future of our local and national economies must be on our radar as much as avoiding becoming infected by this virus.

We all have local businesses that we frequent and appreciate.

If you want to see those establishments remain in existence, don’t abandon them during this public health crisis.

Those shops and restaurants need all of us now more than ever.