I awoke one morning recently listening to the ultra-lovely sweet sounds of chirping and singing songbirds. Our springtime world seemed perfect. Then, I swiftly remembered it is not.

We face an invisible terrorist of unimaginable natural power that can wipe out our parents, grandparents and other loved ones living at local nursing homes or assisted living facilities within days. This clever terrorist even attacks our children — those up to the age of 21, with a multiple inflammatory disease that damages their internal organs. His name: COVID-19. He has created our sobering pandemic!

Hopefully, you and those you love will never meet him. But beware since he is very clever to find everybody. He seeks you out when you are innocently meeting with a friend for a few minutes or having a business meeting with colleagues in a conference room. He lurks and transmits his deadly blow to you within five to 50 minutes of your interactions. That is all it takes for him to harm.

So, what must we do to defeat this dreadful terrorist? Primarily, we must understand that he does not care who you are or that you may not like to social distance by six feet, wear a facial mask, or wash your hands on a frequent basis after social engagements.

To live as a true American patriot and remove this terrorist from our world, we must join together to curtail his power by reinforcing our social distance from each other for a bit longer, by wearing a facial mask and by avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people — particularly, indoors, where COVID-19 quickly injects his viral venom!

It is emotionally hard to behave so differently than usual, to know many of our friends and colleagues have lost jobs or business, and to lose loved ones. But I recall journalist Marianne Pearl’s recent advice to Time magazine readers upon reflecting about her beloved Wall Street Journal reporter husband Danny Pearl: he was murdered at the hands of terrorists in Pakistan. Please take her message to heart as we battle COVID-19 together so we can fully restore our health, work, and economy:

“What matters most is how other people react. That is where we have a margin to grow as a world: each individual’s sense of integrity is our collective source of hope.”

Remember Pearl’s plea as you live each day ahead so you can save your life as well as the lives of those around you. Then, we will unite in the months ahead to celebrate our triumph over COVID-19 with joy!

Joan Halgren

Red Wing