Gov. Tim Walz’ order for Minnesotans to stay at home is among many national, state and local steps being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The order lends credibility to local steps, such as Koochiching County Board’s closure of boat accesses, and those considered by the International Falls City Council.

Clearly, these steps are being taken for one reason: To protect people. All people.

These measures were not easy decisions for our local leaders. They know that by taking these actions they will affect the lives, livelihoods and lifestyles of us all.

And if we’re doing it right, we are staying home, not considering this a time for family vacations, or visits to far flung relatives, because you have extra time.

Instead, the governor’s actions, which have been followed by local actions, make sense if we truly want to protect people from an illness they could die from, and that could overwhelm our local hospital and clinics.

We don’t deny that some of these actions will hurt our local businesses and the people who own and work for them, as well as the independent contractors, some of who ply the local waters with out-of-town guests to discover the natural wonders in our backyard.

However, the pandemic is real. We may not see our residents piling up like cord wood at our local hospital, so it may seem a distant risk. But it is not as distant as it may feel to some. People here likely have the virus, and are staying home to avoid contact with others.

Why would we want to expose visitors to local people with the virus, or visitors with the virus be exposed to us? These action steps are intended to keep from sharing the virus with one another here and with other communities.

There will be another early spring walleye season on the Rainy River, and there will be a day when we can share a meal at a local restaurant, greeting one another with hugs and handshakes.

But for now, we urge people to heed the steps our leaders are taking. And find ways to enjoy this at-home time — whether you are alone or with family.

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