TOLEDO, Ohio — Saturday afternoon, I went to pick up food from a Toledo restaurant.
As I was waiting, I talked to the bartender, whose job now involves only taking food orders.
He offered his thoughts on the pandemic. Simply put, those thoughts were that everyone is going to get the virus, so why bother shutting everything down?
His thinking is one of the reasons that Gov. Mike DeWine was forced to issue a "shelter in place" order on Sunday afternoon.
Many of us are doing what we can - staying in, not gathering in groups, keeping safe distances from people. But, for many, the virus still seems like nothing more than a serious head cold.
I continue to hear from people on social media that this is no worse than the flu. It does not take a mathematical genius to realize that the number of infections is doubling every couple of days. Ohio is now at 351 confirmed cases. Michigan is at 1,035, after being in double digits days ago. This is much more contagious and deadly than the flu.
Italy has an older population than ours, but they are a valuable example of what can happen if strong steps to separate people are not taken as early as possible. In the latest tally on Sunday, Italy said it has had more than 59,000 cases and it reported 651 new deaths. The country has now had 5,476 deaths. That number will likely more than double in the next week.
At this point, Italy's hospitals are overwhelmed and non-coronavirus patients are not able to get the treatment they would normally receive. That is what the United States is trying to avoid.
I have been extremely impressed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and health director, Dr. Amy Acton. They grasp the dangers of inaction, and they have been out front of many other states in trying to stop the virus. As they were closing down bars and restaurants, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt was tweeting a photo of himself and his children at a crowded restaurant, telling people to carry on with their lives. Oklahoma has now declared a state of emergency.
It is going to be difficult for all of us in the days and weeks ahead, but separating ourselves is simply something we must do.
I hope people will send me their stories, letting me know how their families are spending their time together. Send those stories to email@example.com. I will be documenting this pandemic in all the days ahead, and I want to tell your stories.