With the progression of recent events, all of us in Highlands County have been asked to practice social distancing. This means not gathering in large groups, in unnecessary places and generally trying to stay away from others as much as possible.

This request was made in an effort to help the community as a whole. By self-isolating or social distancing, the number of people a potentially infected person comes into contact with is limited. In turn, it can also limit the chances an immunocompromised person might have of coming into contact with the virus.

This is the first time in my life that I have been aware of and directly affected by a pandemic. And while this one isn’t turning people into zombies, it’s just as concerning. I’ve been following some of the updates on the coronavirus from Italy. As time has gone on, Italy has reported growing numbers of deaths per day. This turns something people mock and joke about into something more serious.

Recently, the governor of Florida declared that all restaurants must move to take-out only. My friend was told that her job will be closed until further notice, and my boyfriend has been laid off from his job indefinitely. People are now finding themselves jobless, stressed, and probably afraid of the unknown.

While there are many companies trying to help out, by offering to hire people temporarily, or giving discounts on items, many of us are still worried and uncertain. We wonder when life will return to normal, if it ever really will be back to normal. What will life be like in a month? Two? All the while trying to figure out how we are going to make it for just a few more weeks.

During this difficult time for our society, I hope I see a change in the way we treat others. We all live here, and this is a situation that will require the support of the whole community. We should try to check on each other more, give what we can and never take more than we need. It really is the way a society treats its least fortunate members that determines what that society values.

Until further notice, I think we should all get comfortable being with ourselves, and pick up interests that, up until recently, you just didn’t have time for. Gardening, reading, cleaning out your spare room. Whatever it is that makes you feel productive or gives you a good feeling, do it. This should be a time during which we can all introflect and possibly grow.

We should try to make the best of the terrible situation we all find ourselves in. Even though things are going to change, that doesn’t mean it has to be for the worst. Keep your social distance for the sake of others, and focus on yourself. Everything will work out however it’s supposed to and the best thing we can do currently is take the advice of professionals, and keep going.