Asian man watching TV in home theater room

These are admittedly worrisome times. As the death toll and infection rate in the United States and abroad continues to tick upward, the COV ID-19 coronavirus pandemic has effectively shut down much of California life. The COVID-19 outbreak is serious. It is cutting across race, class and borders and while it’s not a portent of apocalyptic doom, it is still imperative that every Angeleno follows the city’s new Safer at Home initiative and follows health officials’ recommendations.

Announced last Thursday, the mandate requires all non-essential businesses to remain closed, and asks everyone to limit their outside interactions to essential trips. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a similar mandate statewide around the same time. Bars, venues and other “non-essential” businesses were already forced off work the weekend prior. The new mandate tightens these restrictions, sending more employees either home to work, or to await the end of this crippling stoppage. We all have a role in aiding our healthcare workers on the front lines of this epidemic by following the advice that health officials are putting forward. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. Avoid large gatherings and please try to keep a distance from other people. It can be tedious and tough, but enduring this hardship now helps protect the health of your neighbors who might not be as well equipped to deal with the illness, if infected.

Remember, people can carry and spread the disease without showing symptoms themselves. It will also make sure that longer, more intense lockdowns are not needed.

Other parts of the world, like in Italy which has seen an escalating and rapid spread of the illness, have shown how bad things can get when everyone doesn’t do their part to flatten the curve. Italy last week earned the grim distinction of the county with the most COVID-19 infections, surpassing China, where the disease was first detected. Experts have noted that if preventative measures issued by the Italian government were taken more seriously, the rate of in- fection might have been greatly mitigated.

However, it is not the time for panic. It must be reiterated that people should not hoard food or panic buy and that there is no food shortage, only shortages caused by rush purchases. Grocery stores remain open and while markets can and will be able to restock, massively buying up items deprives access to others, and makes fellow shoppers have to repeatedly leave isolation to get what they need. It’s also a rough time for the Downtown community, with many people out of work due to the health-focused closures. Elsewhere in this issue Los Angeles Downtown News documents how the virus is hurting local businesses. If you have the means and want to support local businesses and workers, do so; contribute to fundraising campaigns for staffers or buy gift cards.

This editorial page urges readers to take the precautions to heart, calmly but with seriousness. Doing what you can now not only protects you, it protects the rest of the community.