In Italy, they already have a few hundred people dying every single day and that number will soon be over 1,000 deaths per day on their current trajectory.

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Life in America is about to be exceptionally strange for at least the next 2-3 months. We all need to collectively accept that and get on board with a temporary set of rules that everyone strictly adheres to.


If we choose any other strategy than immediate widespread, comprehensive social distancing, the short- and long-ferm consequences will be severe. This pandemic we are currently living through is of extreme significance, on par with the Spanish Flu of 1918, World War II, or the Great Depression; anyone comparing this to the swine flu or common cold is dangerously downplaying the severity of this virus.


Our generation will be defined by how we acted in the coming days, weeks and months. Let's make it a story of triumph instead of abject failure.


The good news is most of us have electricity, running water, Wi-Fi, Netflix, cell phones and countless other amenities that should make this period of isolation and social distancing relatively bearable. The rules we must follow aren't great. They will seem like overreactions at the time but they are not. They are our only hope at flattening the curve and avoiding a complete collapse of our already strained medical system.


The data out of South Korea suggests there is a large number of young people, especially 20-29, who never experience any symptoms but carry and transmit the virus to others at a very high rate. It is safe to assume that is also happening here. They were able to identify one person, labeled Patient 31, who was ultimately responsible for spreading the virus to over 1,000 other people. Each of us must do whatever it takes to avoid being that person.


Here's the main rule: Just. Stay. Home. We can't wait for the government to initiate the lockdown on all non-essential places of business, which will likely happen any day. We must implement these rules on ourselves right now. If you own/manage basically anything other than a hospital, pharmacy or grocery store, please don't ask your employees to come to work. Just close it down now instead of waiting a few more days. It could save lives. If bars and other public gathering places remain open, be a responsible citizen and choose not to go. It isn't safe.


This also means no kid play-dates, parties, sleepovers or families/friends visiting each other's houses and apartments. Seriously, just stay home with your family and treat it like a government mandated staycation. Try to go outside for walks/runs at least once a day but maintain a safe social distance (6-10 feet) from anyone you encounter while outside. The only people allowed in your 6-10 foot bubble should be your immediate family that lives with you.


At some point you will have to go to the grocery store; keep these trips to a minimum, get only what you need and leave the rest for others. Maintain as much distance as possible from other shoppers and wash your hands thoroughly before and after your trip.


If you feel sick contact your doctor by phone before driving to the hospital. In most cases they will instruct you to stay home, rest, drink water, etc. Only in very severe cases will you be instructed to go to the ER as they will likely be overwhelmed already.


These measures might sound extreme but they are absolutely necessary. In Italy, they already have a few hundred people dying every single day and that number will soon be over 1,000 deaths per day on their current trajectory. That's 1,000 people's parents or grandparents dying every single day and they can’t even have a proper funeral for any of them because the whole country is on lockdown.


So if some random guys in hazmat suits disposing of your dead grandma's body while nobody is there to say goodbye sounds like something you want to avoid, then it is imperative that you get on board and follow the Just Stay Home guidelines above.


Please and thank you.


Jake Brashears is a resident of Destin.


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