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The day we all feared has arrived

| March 20, 2020 1:00 AM

It was only a matter of time until Kootenai County announced its first confirmed coronavirus case.

That time was precisely 2 p.m. Thursday.

Media got notice at noon of a press conference at the sheriff’s office at 2, a fairly short head’s up that suggested this wasn’t going to be one of your more mundane briefings. And it wasn’t. Ground was broken that everyone hoped never would be — but knew beyond a doubt that it was inevitable.

This first case, a man over 60 with an extensive travel history, is reportedly doing well. There’s your silver lining.

What’s known of COVID-19 patients so far isn’t much as the pandemic permeates the planet. At this point, the best guess at the bottom line is that roughly 2 percent of those who get the virus will die because of it. That’s only an estimate, of course, coming last week from the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Let’s put that into some perspective. Assuming there are 160,000 people in Kootenai County and imagining that 25 percent get sick with COVID-19, applying the estimated death rate means 80 of us would likely die. But the death rate might be off. And maybe a smaller percentage will get sick.

Because we’re a hardy bunch, maybe if we’re smart and disciplined and do what we know we’re supposed to be doing, we can even get through this thing with less loss of life than many other places.

By no means is there any joy in having the first local case come to light, but there is a vague sense of relief. The perilous, potentially terrifying journey has now officially begun in our backyard. And the sooner it begins, the sooner it can end.

Let’s do all we can to ensure our health care workers and facilities aren’t overwhelmed, which is far more a nightmare scenario than running out of toilet paper or baked beans.

Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Help your neighbors.

The coronavirus is here in Kootenai County. Let’s treat this visitor rudely.