Amid intense levels of disruption to our normal routines in an effort to stem the spread of a global pandemic, now is the time for resolve, not panic.

This time only a week ago, Mississippi had not reported a single case of a new coronavirus that has already brought other nations to a standstill. Now, as of Saturday, six presumptive cases are reported in Mississippi, a number that will certainly continue to climb in the coming days as it has in our neighboring states and across the country.

In response, schools throughout Northeast Mississippi, the state of Mississippi and the country have closed their doors for at least a time. Universities have announced dramatic steps to move all instruction online through the remainder of the semester. Many houses of worship have also increasingly decided to halt face-to-face gatherings.

In only a few days, much has happened. For some, the consequence has been fear. Grocery store shelves have emptied of toilet paper, water and other essentials.. Uncertainty hangs over the future. But Mississippians should not panic about this virus.

This does not mean that we urge nothing to be done. To the contrary, we must act, but we must be measured and restrained.

Officials have not warned of impending shortages to food or supplies, but panic buying could indeed cause hardships for those among us who have not yet changed their habits or cannot afford to buy in mass quantities.

Right now, the people of Mississippi should be concerned with slowing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. That is why churches, schools, community groups and others have taken truly dramatic steps to reduce social contact. The goal is to prevent this new disease from spread very rapidly across a population with no immunity and overwhelming our hospitals and doctors with a crushing surge of cases that may require hospitalization.

Throughout all the uncertainty we have faced and still face over the coming days, the Daily Journal will continue to do all it can to provide verified, essential information as quickly as possible.

Early this week, the Daily Journal will meet with the leadership of North Mississippi Medical Center to work in partnership to make available the latest and best information from local medical experts. We will continue to answer questions, offer up best practices and provide guidance on procedures to follow if you need to engage your medical community for testing or treatment.

It remains key that you seek our news on this rapidly evolving situation from reliable sources of news, including the Daily Journal in print, online and through our app. Rumors have swirled across social media of supposedly positive coronavirus cases across the state. Perhaps a few of this rumors will be true. The vast majority of them will be false, paying heed to them only increases a spirit of fear and panic.

As you begin a week that may bring more surprises, continue to follow the advice of medical experts. Here a few guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control:

All Households Should:

Clean hands at the door and at regular intervals

Create habits and reminders to avoid touching your face and cover coughs and sneezes

Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and handrails regularly

Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning

Households with Vulnerable Seniors and Family Members:

Significant underlying conditions include heart, lung, kidney disease; diabetes; and conditions that suppress the immune system

Have the healthy people in the household conduct themselves as if they were a significant risk to the person with underlying conditions. For example, wash hands frequently before interacting with the person, such as by feeding or caring for the person

If possible, provide a protected space for vulnerable household members

Ensure all utensils and surfaces are cleaned regularly

In short: Practice good hygiene, avoid unnecessary physical contact and we can all get through this together. Working together, this too, shall pass.

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