The events surrounding the pandemic related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) have quickly escalated. 

Several states have mandated that residents stay in their homes, unless making a necessary trip to places such as the grocery store, doctor office, or a drive-thru restaurant. 

Tragically, the first death recorded in our state was Hancock County resident Howard “Fade” Pickens. 

I didn’t know Mr. Pickens, but from what I’ve heard, he was a great man and will be missed by many. 

When I heard the news, it became personal. Even though I didn’t know Mr. Pickens, he was a member of our little community. 

For a while now, COVID-19 seemed to be so far away from us. But now it’s here, in our country, our state, and our county. 

I must admit, I began to feel more anxiety and panic. I immediately socially distanced myself from family. My father’s immune system is comprised and I don’t want to risk that. 

Nor do I wish to risk the health of others.

Even though I still have to go to work, I only go to the office, to an emergency meeting hosted by officials, and my house. 

I try to take extra precautions. 

For those who can work from home or are able to stay home, I urge you to do so. 

This has been recommended by many medical professionals and will hopefully help flatten the curve, which means less people becoming infected with the virus. 

That’s what we want. We don’t want or need our healthcare system inundated with the sick and run out of resources to save lives. 

So stay home and only go out if it’s an absolute necessity to do so. 

I also know that several of our community members are called to work. Be it city or county workers, linemen, bankers, contractors, medical professionals, restaurant staff, first responders, retail workers, truck drivers, etc. 

I know a girl named Hilary. We met when I taught her son in preschool. We are Facebook friends and I love keeping up with her and her three beautiful children. They live here in Hancock County.

She is a single mom and she works at the Walmart in Pass Christian. 

Ever since the panic buying began, she has posted several updates, urging people to be kind to retail workers, buying up only what you need, and whatnot. 

Throughout the years, I know she has spearheaded several fundraising efforts for non-profits. 

Just last week, she also provided pizza to fire fighters who were in need of a meal, due to the fact that some of Walmart’s shelves were bare. 

She is one of thousands working to keep people stocked in things they need. 

Not only does she risk her own health, she risks the health of her own children. But she does it for the greater good, which I know to be a fact. 

She could go home and say she didn’t want to work. But she continues to work because she cares about her community and supplying them with what they need. 

I believe we need to thank those who are considered our country’s essential workers right now. 

It is through their hard work and commitment that will help us get through this. 

So, at the very least, people that can should be at home. Do your part. Don’t risk the lives of others  just because you think you are invincible. That is irresponsible. 

I’m thankful to Hilary and all others who are keeping our country running during this difficult time. 

Again, I’m hoping you all stay safe, healthy, and please make good choices. 

Cassandra is a staff writer at the Sea Coast Echo and can be reached at cassandra@seacoastecho.com.  

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