ISJ logo

The coronavirus is taking a toll on America and the empty store shelves even here in East Idaho attest to the panic that’s taking hold nationwide.

Much of the reaction to the coronavirus in the U.S. is unlike anything that the vast majority of us have ever seen.

Entire professional sports seasons have been put on hiatus along with college sports tournaments. Some states have shut down their schools and colleges, and events big and small have been canceled across the country in an effort to stop the virus’s spread.

Despite all of those efforts, the virus is still expected to sicken tens of millions of Americans and inflict a significant death toll on our nation.

All indications are that the pandemic of sci-fi books and movies has arrived, and who knows when life will return to normal.

Many feel that the government should have responded sooner to the virus, which began claiming victims in Wuhan, China, this past December.

But the government’s inaction regarding the virus fortunately turned to action this past week.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little held multiple press conferences to keep Idahoans in the loop about the latest coronavirus developments in the state and local officials have provided a steady stream of press releases flowing to the media about everything from event cancellations to precautions on how to keep yourself from contracting the virus.

On Friday, Little placed Idaho under a state of emergency shortly before President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus threat.

We would hope that anyone who feels the virus is a joke, hoax or something not worthy of concern please rethink that mindset.

Idaho officials announced Friday that at least 15 percent of the state’s population would likely contract coronavirus. That means the best case scenario is that 268,500 of Idaho’s 1.79 million residents will get sick. If the virus has a mortality rate of even 1 percent under this best case scenario, nearly 2,700 Idahoans will die.

Those numbers should get everyone’s attention and make us realize what China and many other countries have already concluded — this virus is deadly serious.

That being said, times of crisis such as this always bring out the best and worst in our nation.

The announcement by the volunteer firefighters at the North Bannock County Fire Department on Friday that they will go shopping for elderly local residents in order to protect them from being exposed to the virus at local stores is incredibly kind. These firefighters already put their lives on the line every day responding to emergencies and now they are offering to shield the older folks among us from a deadly pandemic.

If only our Congress and president could emulate such selflessness.

As of Friday afternoon, they were having the toughest time putting politics aside to pass legislation to provide Americans with financial relief as the coronavirus continues to lay waste to our nation’s economy.

If there were ever a time for our politicians to put politics aside it is now.

It’s as much disappointing as it is a national embarrassment that even with the coronavirus killing Americans that government gridlock is alive and well.

We hope that in the end this chapter in our country’s history provides more examples of the good in us — such as the actions of the North Bannock firefighters — than what we’re seeing in our nation’s capitol.

How America survives this pandemic will likely depend on as much.