There are two ways to pull off a bandaid, one quick and one slow.

The quick way is to get a firm grip on one edge of the bandaid and rip it off.

The slow way is to get a firm grip on one edge of the bandaid and gradually, a little bit at the time, pull at the band-aid.

Both ways are painful, but as anyone who’s taken off a bandaid can tell you, the quick way gets it over with and done. The slow way prolongs the agony.

The response to the COVID-19 coronavirus has been painful for our community, our state, our country and the world.

Everyone has been hit by it, from the doctors, nurses, paramedics and pharmacy workers on the frontline of this, to the small business owner just trying to make a living in a world that’s come to a stop, to the parents and teachers trying to get their kids through the end of the school year, to the students navigating digital classes, the grocery store and restaurant workers trying to do their job safely, to the people who find themselves filing for unemployment, some for the first time, some for the first time in a long time.

None of this has been easy, but at the risk of oversimplifying the response to a worldwide pandemic, we are taking off the bandaid.

The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization have advised everyone to practice social distancing, to avoid gatherings in groups of more than 10, to stay six feet away from other people, wash their hands with soap throughout the day and take precautions when running essential errands.

The governor’s office has issued a shelter at home order.

Each of us, individually, have to decide whether we’re going to take this thing seriously or not.

We can all take it seriously, follow the guidance from medical experts, adhere to the shelter in place order from the governor’s office and rip this bandaid off.

Or we can not.

But the slower we pull off this bandaid, the longer it’s going to take. The medical and economic agony we’re in — and that feeling of being stuck at home with nothing to do — can stretch out for months, if we let it.

Anyone who’s ever taken a bandaid off can tell you what we need to do.

This isn’t to say there aren’t legitimate reasons to leave your house. Going to work, getting food and medicine, stepping outside for a walk, a run, or a bike ride. As long as we take the responsibility of not getting too close to others doing the same.

We have to break the growth of this thing and we have to do it together, even though we’re apart.

We have to protect ourselves and each other, and we have to protect ourselves in order to protect each other.

We have to stay home, leaving the house only when necessary.

We have to rip off the bandaid. The sooner we do, the sooner we can put an end to this pandemic, get back to work and get back to our normal lives.

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