As the coronavirus continues to spread, I’ve started hearing politicians saying it’s time to re-open the economy. They say that the cure will be worse than the disease. It’s true that our economy is suffering. But as challenging and inconvenient as they are, the steps we’re taking are saving lives. And both medical and economic experts agree that reopening now would only hurt the economy more.

It might be hard to imagine that this pandemic could be any worse. With all the bad news that’s out there, it’s easy to start feeling down. Yet here in Maine, our health care system is coping with COVID-19 –– so far. As much as this pandemic could hurt our economy, an economic downturn is not the scariest scenario we face. The scariest scenario is that our health care system will become overwhelmed. If the virus spreads faster, more people will need to go to the hospital than we have beds. And it’s not an unimaginable scenario; it’s already happened in other parts of the world. We can stop it from happening in Maine, but only if we keep doing everything we possibly can to fight this virus.

During this difficult time, however, we’ve seen the best in each other. Essential workers are on the front lines –– doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery store clerks, farmers, transportation workers and all those who are still on the job. Folks are checking on those who are most vulnerable, preparing meals, and supporting local businesses and nonprofits.

It’s critical that we all keep doing our part by staying home as much as possible, washing and disinfecting our hands often, staying at least six feet apart from others when in public and maintaining the spirit of working together while waiting for programs to be implemented that will provide relief. The Mills administration is working hard to implement rules and administer the new programs passed by Congress. We legislators know and understand how hard it is to wait for this relief. If you’re struggling to get by, please reach out to me at David.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov or 287-1515, and I will help connect you with resources to help you and your family.

The food pantries can help get you through until you get a check (visit maine.gov/dacf/ard/tefap/ for a directory of food assistance in Knox County). The courts are closed so you can’t be evicted, and your power and other services can’t be cut off during this crisis. The governor also signed an order to prevent tenants from being evicted if they can’t pay rent because of the pandemic.

We will make it through this, and things will go back to normal. Gov. Mills is talking to the governors of New Hampshire and Vermont so that when it’s safe, we have a comprehensive plan for that return to normalcy. Until that time comes, let’s continue fighting this pandemic with the resilient spirit we’ve shown throughout this crisis.

State Senator Dave Miramant represents Knox County.