For answers to frequently asked questions about coronavirus, click here.
It is in all seriousness that we say the coronavirus is coming here, as in to Chattanooga, as in to your place of business, as in maybe to your home.
We say that not to panic anyone, only that at the rate new cases are being discovered it is inevitable. Most cases aren't deadly but may require isolation and treatment.
At some point, probably sooner rather than later, everyday things we indulge in may have to cease temporarily.
We've already seen University of Tennessee at Chattanooga classes be suspended until March 30. Southern Adventist University suspended all in-person classes and will move them online for the remainder of the semester. Hamilton County Schools are closing for two weeks.
Service organizations and community clubs are postponing meetings and events. Sporting event officials are making contingency plans. Church leaders are considering what they should do.
Some of the best minds in the country considering the virus say reducing the number of gatherings where there are a lot of people will keep the virus from spreading. It only makes sense. It what most sensible people do when we have colds or the flu. We don't go around other people.
But mayors, school superintendents and public health officials may make public declarations that some will find burdensome or inconvenient. Schools, parks, playgrounds, theaters, churches, other places where people gather — they will close.
And if they do, contingency plans will be made. After the threat has passed or lessened, they'll be opened again.
Yes, it's been a long time since the country has been asked to sacrifice like we may be asked to sacrifice soon. Certainly, the country did it during World War II, and we may be asked to take some of the same measures citizens were asked to take during the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918.
If it happens, it will be inconvenient and it won't be fun. It's unusual to ponder a sort of lockdown in a free society. But, if it happens, it will be necessary.
In the meantime, we need to remember that the coronavirus outbreak is nonpartisan. It doesn't distinguish between political parties, and neither should we in doing our part to get past it.
But we should do what we already know how to do in protecting ourselves and the most vulnerable members of our families. And if we don't know how, good information is almost everywhere, but Facebook and Twitter are not your friends in this situation. For there exists as much bad or wrong information as good.
So, seek creditable news sources, follow the advice of public health officials, wash your hands and don't panic. We'll all get past this.