For years there have been billboards placed high above the streets, as well as ads playing on the radio, talking about emergency preparedness for Illinois. Those ads caught my attention because I always wondered what catastrophe that would have us needing it. Little did I imagine a virus that went from animals to humans, originating in China, would be the cause.

Coronavirus has made the entire world pay attention. Primarily because viruses that affect animals normally don’t impact humans. But when said virus makes the transition from animals to humans, our immune system is ill-equipped to recognize the danger and fight it off. 

Now that the threat of a pandemic has hit, how many people are prepared for it? As I write this column, schools are closing, casinos have closed, bars and restaurants are closing. The two-week shutdown is designed to limit the amount of exposure to the virus as a means of controlling it. But will it work? That remains to be seen.

All of these closings will be a double whammy for the black community. Those who can least afford it can’t take two weeks off the job without devastating their finances. At the same time, a deadly disease is even more devastating if a person contracts it. So the goal of government is to keep us within the confines of our houses for several weeks to allow the incubation period to come and go with the fewest people being exposed to it. 

How many households are prepared with enough food to last several weeks? These staples should be in the pantry cabinet of every household: Rice, dried beans, canned fruits and vegetables, flour, sugar, salt, pepper and several other spices. Other than fresh milk, eggs and bread, I have always kept enough food to last my family at least two months should something happen. A deep freezer has always been a necessity. A food vacuum sealer is also a must have.

Because the coronavirus can move between animals and humans, I am calling upon the mayor and aldermen to begin an initiative to get every alley clean and a ticketing process to make sure it’s maintained that way. It makes no sense to have so much garbage lying about the streets of this city, thrown there by irresponsible humans. The deadliness of the coronavirus cannot be underestimated and while everybody’s attention is on it, the message can more easily be communicated.

If restaurants are shutting down, the city also needs to shut down permanently the unlicensed sidewalk food vendors. That is another unhealthy situation to which the city has turned a blind eye. Those individuals have no sanitation at all, yet they serve food that some thoughtlessly and readily run to eat. That could be another epidemic in the making.

The coronavirus shutdown should also be aimed at certain locations where folks like to hang out. Two weeks of not standing on the corner outside the liquor store, gas stations, fast food restaurants, etc. can hopefully become a permanent change.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will continue to expound upon my observations during this crisis. Let us all hope and pray that a positive outcome is going to be the reality.