Each morning when I come to work, I check my emails. Our health officer, Carol Chamberlain, provides me with an update on the new “positive” COVID-19 cases for each day. Over the past two weeks, our community has seen a steady increase in cases.

On Nov. 13, there were 15 new cases reported. This is basically 2-3 times more than what we had been reporting a couple of weeks before that. On Nov. 16, we had 11 positive cases. On Nov. 17, we had 27 new positive coronavirus cases in our community.

We are in the midst of what the health professionals have been warning us for months. For those that want to say it is because we are testing more: no, it is not. For those that want to say the cases are primarily with our elderly at assisted living facilities: no, it is not.

Although the time to understand that politics should have no part in our fight against this deadly and contagious virus was months and months ago, it does not mean we don’t have the capacity to change our mindset and be unified in what we should do to protect ourselves, our loved ones, friends, neighbors and others we share this community with.

It is clear that the freedoms that our country has provided us for more than 240 years make it difficult for some to accept and follow the instruction of others (our leaders and public health officials) who are charged with the responsibility of protecting all of us from this pandemic. It is also clear that there are some people that will never accept this pandemic as something to be united against until a family member or friend either dies or is hospitalized by it.

We all need to take a moment or two to set aside whatever has caused you to this point to think that “this isn’t real” or “the media is lying to us” or “we can’t let this stop us from living our lives,” and remember that no one is asking or saying that this is a permanent, new normal. It is not.

Vaccines are on the way. We can see the light at the end of this tunnel, and it is getting brighter each day. So, now is the time where we hunker down more. Be more vigilant in our efforts to protect ourselves and others.

This is what we need to do, and it isn’t a big ask: 1) Wear a mask. It does protect you, and it does protect others despite what people with a different agenda may say. 2) Keep a safe distance from others whenever possible; 3) Wash your hands and keep them away from your face. 4) Reduce the amount of times you gather with others and make the groups as small as possible. 5) Support your local businesses as much as you can. Give larger tips if possible. They are there for us when we want and need them. Let’s be there for them now. 6) Work hard to find real information on this virus instead of listening to TV or radio hosts who may have an agenda that does not include protecting your health or the health of your loved ones.

It is time for us to step it up and do all we can to reduce the spread of the virus. Please, everyone, be on board with fighting this virus in a unified manner.