When Noah, his family and all the dogs, ponies, zebras, elephants and the other creatures boarded the ark, two by two, for 40 days and 40 nights of heavy rain, Noah warned the humans what they were in for. He told them this was no tourist cruise or even a shakedown trip.

He told them nobody would be waiting at the end of their voyage and all evidence of their previous life would be gone. We will return and we will be starting from scratch. Pretty drastic.

The rough ride we’re taking now through the coronavirus pandemic is not quite as dramatic as the all-or-nothing voyage on Noah’s Ark, and it’s less predictable, but it is very drastic.

For one thing, everybody’s on board. Millions. As we have been hearing daily, we’re all in this together – all in the same boat. If we had a Noah, which we don’t, he’d warn us what we’re in for.

The warning would be something like this: Folks, buckle your seat belts, we’re on a long, bumpy road here and we’re taking a trip like none of us have every taken. We’re riding through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Look out senior citizens and those with health problems.

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This COVID-19 disease is 10 times more dangerous than the flu. As of Easter Sunday, 21,000 have died in the U.S.A. (799 in one day in New York City) with the total expected to exceed 64,000 by August. The house is still on fire.

We can take a high road or a low road.

On the low road, people are reacting with panic. They’re buying guns, like we were expecting aliens to come kicking in our doors. They’re filling their basements with toilet paper. They’re blaming Asian people and Mexican-Americans for causing and spreading the epidemic. They’re second guessing and criticizing the advice our medical people are giving us, looking for shortcuts.

The high road requires more patience. We can’t fix the economy until we have a handle on the medical problem. Our doctors and scientists tell us this will get worse before it gets better and the virus will reach the rural areas. They warn us that while new hospitalizations are leveling off, the number of patients is still at capacity. We still don’t have a medical cure and we still don’t have a vaccine. It will take 12-18 months to develop a vaccine. We need more testing to see where the virus is still hiding out there and how many have been exposed.

Before we can all get back to work, back in school, and heal the pain and squeeze of unemployment we need to listen to our medical advisers: stay home, stay clean and stay apart.

We can’t resume life as “normal” until we can protect one another, protect our seniors and care for our children. There is a danger in rushing back before it’s safe. If we’re not careful, we could get a second wave of the virus like they have in Asia.

In the meantime, adults and children on the high road are doing amazing things for one another: delivering food, running errands, and working extra shifts at the hospital at personal risk because of the shortage of personal protective equipment. We have seen new levels of sacrifice, service and generosity. This is a time for strength. Good people are volunteering and stepping forward. This is a country that has gone through war, terrorism, epidemics, recession and depression. We have good reason to be optimistic – we have heart – we’re the land of the free and the home of the brave. We will come through this.

We have a little pub in our neighborhood owned by a hardworking widow. It’s closed until it will be safe to open. She has a sign by the entrance. One side of her sign says, “Gone Fishing.” We know she hasn’t. The other side says, “I’ll be Back.” We know she will.