By Ignacio Velazquez
It is hard to believe that for the past six months, San Benito County has been battling the coronavirus.
Hollister was first introduced to the virus (also known as Covid-19) on Feb. 2 when two local residents tested positive. At that time, there were only 12 known cases in the entire country and no deaths. Currently, there are well over five million people in the United States who have tested positive for the virus and more than 170,000 who have passed away from the coronavirus in our country, and still the virus continues to rage on.
Locally, we prepared earlier than most communities. Our community also moved aggressively with smart restrictions in mid-March as the virus spread across the country. We were part of the first group of counties in the country to enact a shelter in place, which prevented the virus from spreading rapidly in our community.
In the early stages of shelter in place, our community did an excellent job working together to slow the virus and keep our numbers down to levels that allowed us to begin the reopening process for businesses, which meant more people could go back to work. Unfortunately, as more people began going back to work, more people also began to feel as though this pandemic was no longer a threat or no longer something they should worry about or even take precautions to protect each other. As a result, our community and communities across the country have seen a dramatic increase in cases of the virus.
Where do we go from here, and what can you do to help? We need to work harder as a community to protect one another by understanding that this virus is serious and precautions are still needed. Over the last six months, we have learned that taking simple measures against this virus can lead to dramatically lower numbers, which will keep our hospitals from being overwhelmed with more Covid-19 patients and lead to fewer people passing away. The majority of cases that we are now seeing have originated at gatherings of friends and family that are not taking simple precautions such as wearing face covers.
It’s time for all of us to work together again to protect one another and to slow this virus. These simple steps can help beat the coronavirus:
1. Wear a face cover whenever you are in public or around those who do not live with you.
2. Social distance of at least six feet when you are around others who do not live in your household.
3. Wash your hands several times a day for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus.
4. Stay home and self-isolate if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive with the virus or if you don’t feel well.
5. Get tested if you feel any symptoms of fever, cough, have a hard time breathing, or a loss of smell or taste.
We can beat this virus, but we need to do it together! Stay safe and love you all!
Ignacio Velazquez is the mayor of Hollister.