That’s not a word that’s ever been a favorite of Americans, an impatient people by nature, and it’s certainly not a word for these times, when social devices have helped whittle our attention span to something akin to a gnat’s.

But it’s a word we need to embrace in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patience is wearing thin among some people who have been hunkered down going on weeks. Local and state leaders were quick to respond to COVID-19, as were business leaders at Harrah’s, the Jackson County TDA and Chamber of Commerce, Western Carolina University and Southwestern Community College. Calls for staying home and staying apart came far earlier here than in neighboring states like South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

So, folks stayed at home and waited for the virus to break on our town like a tidal wave. It hasn’t happened so far, and it’s easy to understand some people are getting antsy after staying cooped up while a gorgeous spring is breaking around them.

Couple of points here.

One, the aforementioned two points – quick action and the lack of a large outbreak to date – are very likely connected at the hip.

Two, we’re not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We might not even be to the start of the tunnel.

Good news on that front came Monday when University of Washington health researchers lowered their predictions of projected deaths from COVID-19 in North Carolina from their April 2 estimate of 1,500 to 500. Those researchers now predict the pandemic will peak in N.C. April 15 at 30 deaths a day. Additionally, predictions of a shortage of intensive care beds here have also been revised.

The bad news is that many other areas of the South are looking like blossoming hot spots for the outbreak.

So, we’re not out of the woods, and we can’t let out guard down. Kudos to leaders who have produced quick action, and kudos to every person out there making masks, shopping for elderly neighbors or keeping their kids from going stir crazy.

To the former group, we offer thanks. But they can only do so much, so to the latter group, we say, keep it up. When you get up tomorrow, go look in the mirror. The person looking back is the person who’s going to save themselves, the person down the street and the person around the block.

Steps to keep yourself safe, and your neighbors safe, look like they’re paying off.

But we’ve got a way to go.