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Coronavirus, be gone

How is it that something that can’t be seen by the naked eye can cause the stock market to dip 10 percent in a single day, create an unprecedented demand for bathroom tissue and turn the sports world upside down? 

The culprit, of course, is coronavirus – a flu-like disease that emerged in China three months ago and has since spread throughout the world.  

Symptoms of coronavirus and influenza are similar: fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. The difference is there is no vaccine available to guard against coronavirus.  

Bad colds and flu are common illnesses, with flu causing thousands of deaths yearly to the young and old. Most Americans opt for vaccination as a precautionary measure. 

The spread of coronavirus to the U.S. was delayed initially by restrictive travel and quarantine measures imposed by President Trump. However, a worstcase scenario arose March 12 after an NBA basketball player was diagnosed with coronavirus. 

Future play dates were cancelled. The Major League baseball season was delayed, and the SEC Basketball Tournament was postponed an hour before Alabama was scheduled to play Tennessee in the second round.  

Finally, the NCAA basketball tournament was cancelled, and future collegiate sports events were postponed indefinitely.   

Following the declaration of a national emergency Friday, Alabama public schools were closed from March 19 to April 6, along with the postponement of scheduled high school athletic games during that time.  

Never before has a communicable disease caused as much disruption and life change in the population. Traffic in grocery stores Saturday rivaled Black Friday or a winter storm forecast. Every roll of bathroom tissue was gone.  

Grocery carts were also piled high with bottled drinks and water, packaged luncheon meats, bread and hand sanitizer products. 

Some of the largest churches postponed Sunday services. Deacons at First Baptist Hartselle arrived an hour before services to wipe down classrooms and benches in the sanctuary.  

Elbow bumping replaced handshakes, and ushers stood at exits to take up tithes and offerings.