W

e need to get this through our heads, and we need to do it now:

No one is coming to save us.

Not from coronavirus.

We’re entering a dangerous phase in the ongoing COVID-19 saga. On Sunday the seven-day average of new cases reached 68,767, topping the previous record set back on July 22.

Here in Jackson the final week of October opened with the case count total shooting past 1,000.

As of Monday, North Carolina had seen a total of 261,742 cases and 4,170 COVID-related deaths.

Nationwide, COVID deaths have surpassed 220,000, a number many experts believe is an undercount.

To get some kind of perspective on that number, the population of Winston-Salem is 251,000. So at some point in November, we’ll have lost a Winston-Salem in under a year.

It isn’t just the numbers nationwide; it’s the alarming trajectory. Numbers are skyrocketing. Cooler weather is coming, which will send more people indoors. The holidays are also coming, and the temptation to hold family gatherings after months of separations is going to be hard to stave off. To top it off, flu season is about to kick into high gear as well.

And yet, you go to many places the public frequents, and there’s nary a mask in sight. Those who insist on going maskless really have no evidence to back up the wisdom of that decision. It’s simply pretending the pandemic is over, or it isn’t as bad as the numbers show.

It’s foolhardy and selfish. And it’s a major contributing factor in what we’re heading into.

Dr. William Haseltine, a highly-regarded infectious disease expert, was among public health experts the Daily Beast talked with on Oct. 24. His comments were, frankly, nothing short of terrifying.

“You should be prepared for how bad it’s going to get … It’s going to get a lot worse. We’re looking at easily an excess of 100,000 infections a day and overwhelmed hospitals all over the country.”

Remember the days of feeling like you’d hit the jackpot when there was a roll of toilet paper left on the store shelf? We could be headed right back there.

There’s no vaccine. There’s no cure. No silver bullet.

But there are things health experts agree we can do to protect ourselves and others. Distance at least 6 feet from others. Wash your hands frequently. Stay home as much as you can.

And wear a mask.

The operative phrase in fighting this disease is “we.’’ We have to pull together. If we don’t, this won’t work.

Right now, a lot of us aren’t on board. Some will be walking into an early grave.

And taking others with them.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way.

No one is coming to save us.

We have to save ourselves.