The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken on a life of its own in our country since I wrote my column last week. I not here to write about how many things have been cancelled, or to provide a bunch of coronavirus information this week. I’m sure you are seeking all the information you need and/or want to know.

However, there are two things that have become quite clear in my mind since last week:

• Common sense is one of the first things that is thrown out the window during a crisis.

• Government bureaucracy isn’t nearly as efficient as the private sector.

When it comes to common sense, all one needs to do is follow the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) simple recommendations. I printed them last week in this space, and do so again this week.

In general, the CDC recommends the following to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, which include both coronaviruses and flu viruses:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick

• Stay home when you are sick

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

And, this is where common sense is lacking.

Other than possibly the last one, we should all be doing this – coronavirus, or not.

The most recent suggestion – social distancing – is a new term to me, but also makes a lot of sense.

If we don’t all do our part, I believe there’s a good chance the Federal government will quarantine every one of us and we will have to remain in our homes except to buy food, medicine, and other essential life-supporting things.

The bottom line is hundreds of thousands of individuals will come into contact with the virus. Some of those people will die, most will recovery rather quickly, and still others will have the virus and never know it … and there is absolutely nothing you or me can do to prevent that, other than to apply common sense to our everyday living.

We can do our part to “flatten the curve”, which is another new term to me. It means keeping the spike in infections from occurring in a short period of time, and overwhelming our healthcare system.

And the number one pet peeve I have is the mass purchasing of toilet paper.

I’ve searched the CDC website and nowhere does it say having a six-month supply of toilet paper on hand is vitally important in the fight against coronavirus.

I totally get antibacterial products being swept off shelves, but toilet paper?

In regard to government bureaucracy, I’ll note two things:

• It’s slow as molasses, and anyone who had to deal with any government program post-Harvey knows exactly what I’m talking about. The personal aide provided by volunteers, church groups, etc. touched the lives of so many, so quickly after the storm. Of course, there is a vital need for services that only our government can provide after disasters and during national emergencies, but what the government offers, and what simple human beings offer, are two very different things, yet both fill needs.

Monday afternoon, as I walked through HEB to buy a loaf of bread, I couldn’t help but notice the look on everyone’s faces. It was the look of not knowing what was coming next. It was the exact look I saw on people’s faces in the hours before HEB and Walmart closed their doors in the run up to Harvey.

After Harvey, we saw the damage. After the initial shock, we had to do what we had to do, fully understanding the situation in which we found ourselves wasn’t going to change anytime soon.

Today, unfortunately, the situation isn’t going to change anytime soon, as well. The big difference, as I see it, is after Harvey, we saw with our own eyes what was wrong, and it affected the Texas Gulf coast.

With the coronavirus, we can’t see a thing, and it’s silently affecting the entire world.

Also, we can’t drive a few miles away and escape what we’re facing.

Sure, it can be scary, and yes, the negative economic effect at every level (i.e.-wage earners, business owners, retirees) will be great.

However, just as we faced Harvey in the eye, we must do the same with the coronavirus.

I know it can and will be very bad for many people living in Aransas County.

And, just like after Harvey, I started to think about our forefathers who faced natural disasters and other crisis without billions and billions of dollars in government assistance like we have today.

They understood the basics in life were all that was required to live.

They endured the Great Depression and came out the other end, eventually being labeled “The Greatest Generation.” They survived hardships you and I can only imagine, and ultimately ridded the world of the great evils of that time.

Can’t we be half as strong?

I leave you this week with two things I read on Facebook – one, a heartwarming idea; the other a funny:

• If you’re at home with your children and having a hard time filling the time of day … get them to draw pictures and/or write letters to residents of nursing homes. Send a bunch of them to any nursing home and light up the day of one or more residents. Nursing home residents are now quarantined at some level, and can’t see outside visitors, including family.

• Remember that stash of fast food napkins in your glove box? It’s about to be their time to shine!

Until next week, leave some toilet paper for other people who actually need a roll for its intended purpose.

Mike Probst can be reached at

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