As of Tuesday afternoon, it would be wrong to describe the impact of the coronavirus in Southwest Mississippi as “so far, so good.”

You really can’t use that phrase when schools are in their second week of spring break, people are more selective about going out in public and an inexplicable hoarding of toilet paper shows no sign of letting up.

However, it would be accurate to describe the virus’ impact as “so far, not as bad as it could be.”

The number of diagnosed cases in Mississippi continues to grow, rising from 12 on Monday to 21 Tuesday. Fortunately, none of those cases are in Pike County or any of its surrounding Mississippi counties. But that could change at any time, and no one should be surprised if it does.

Confirmed cases are none too far from Pike County. There are three in the Hattiesburg area and two in Copiah County. However, the greater concern is the rapidly growing number of coronavirus patients in the New Orleans area, which is not a great distance from here.

An equal concern is that plenty of residents traveled out of town last week for spring break. These trips increased the possibility that a local resident came in contact with the virus.

We are part of a mobile society, even when mobility is limited by choice, as it has been for the past few days. Because of this mobility, and because the state and national numbers are continuing to increase, it seems probable that one day soon there will be a coronavirus case in Southwest Mississippi.

Hopefully this prediction is wrong. But if there is a positive diagnosis, it will be a test of local residents’ ability to react calmly and wisely instead of rashly. We can either hoard more toilet paper and scream that it’s the end of the world, or we can recognize that the solution to this public health problem is fairly simple: Prevent the virus from spreading. It will be up to everyone to do their part to kill it.

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