I want to encourage you, our community members, not only to stay home, but also to stay calm and stay connected as we find ourselves facing this pandemic, COVID-19.

As the governor noted and we have witnessed in our community, many are choosing to stay home already, but we can do better. We can’t medicate or ventilate our way out of a pandemic.

A virus is an opportunist ready to use the unprepared and ill-informed, but it is not smart. It certainly is not as smart as we are as a community. Simply don’t spread this virus and we all win.

Even if you are not a high-risk individual, stay home for your family, friends and neighbors and the well-being of our community. Your efforts to distance from each other will slow the spread of COVID-19.

This is a basic virus and stops if we do not spread it. Wash your hands. Do not travel. Do not arrange family gatherings, group visits or play dates. If a new person from other parts of the country joins your family, use a 14-day quarantine.

Our individual efforts will pay off.

Remember the goal is to slow the infection rate enough to buy time ­time to manufacture protective gear and equipment, time to work on medicines and/or a vaccine and time to allow the health system to adjust and catch up.

It can be easy to panic at times like these, but I urge you to stay calm and follow the advice of the experts. Carris Health - Redwood hospital and clinic staff as well as EMS, public health and other emergency preparedness organizations meet regularly to plan, prepare and respond. Your medical providers are working to provide as much care by a phone call or a video visit as we can to care for you from the safety of your home.

We will help you sort through problems as they occur. We are also increasing infection prevention measures within our buildings in a variety of ways, including limiting visitors, screening all patients at the door (clinic and hospital) and offering a nurse triage line for potential COVID-19 patients to call before coming in (507-637-1730).

I ask that you please be patient with us. This is new territory for all, and we are working furiously to do our best for you. Lastly, please stay connected.

Check in with reliable news sources like CarrisHealth.com, the CDC, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

I encourage you to limit all other news consumption to once or twice per day and then turn it off. Instead, check in with the family and friends and especially frail and elderly around you.

Ensure they are okay and help them if you can do it safely. One person getting groceries for a group of vulnerable people is better than all going. We will get through this together.

On behalf of your friends and neighbors at Carris Health - Redwood.

– Joshua Friese, MD is a family physician at the Carris Health - Redwood clinic in Redwood Falls

- Image courtesy of the Internet Public Domain