If you haven’t noticed, Idahoans are on their own when it comes to tamping down the spread of the deadly coronavirus, COVID-19. The federal government isn’t going to ride in on a white charger to rescue distressed citizens.

Even if Idaho and our Blaine County hotspot succeed in bending the curve of rising infections in coming weeks, the threat of new waves will remain until a safe vaccine is developed and widely disseminated.

Doing too little to push infection and death rates as low as possible is not only deadly in the short run, it will be deadlier in the long run.

One estimate cited by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is that by the end of the first wave of the pandemic, 97 percent of the population will remain susceptible to the virus.

That speaks of a pressing need to draft a battle plan that looks beyond the present crisis to avoid another equally as bad.

Blaine County, its cities, the South Central Public Health District and the St. Luke’s health system need to join forces to continue to combat this viral plague.

Not only do locals need to continue to practice preventive measures like social distancing, handwashing, disinfecting surfaces, self-isolating when ill and wearing face masks, they need to urge local elected officials to institute measures to keep ongoing infection levels low.

If community planners need to shift from planning downtown development to planning a long-term fight against coronavirus, so be it. Economic development groups could shift members’ efforts from bringing visitors to the resort to rounding up necessary supplies for health-care and essential-business workers.

Local people must harness state and local expertise, purchasing contacts and networks, financial resources and personnel, and ingenuity. Only these will help as many Idahoans as possible survive a debacle in which the federal government has left Americans dangling off a cliff with little hope of rescue.

Individuals can’t manufacture virus test kits or surgical-grade medical masks, but they may know someone who does. Small state and local manufacturing operations might be able to shift into manufacturing critical equipment.

We are sitting ducks for the virus if we wait for someone else to rescue us.

We must examine the successes and failures of other countries in battling COVID-19. We may be behind, but it’s time to catch up.

Worldwide, the death rate from the virus is at 5.4 percent. In the U.S., it’s 2.9 percent and rising. This means that of every 100 people who test positive for the virus, three will die.

Blaine County and Idaho are just beginning to taste the distressing bitterness of COVID-19 deaths. Not only must we bend the curve, we must fortify our defenses to make the virus less lethal over the next year as we await a vaccine. It’s up to us.

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