We are all ready for this pandemic to be over and it will be soon, hopefully, but we can’t allow our restlessness to lead us into danger here in the new center of a serious COVID-19 hotspot.

Seven east Mississippi counties, including Neshoba, came under stricter guidelines Tuesday that require businesses to screen employees and for masks to be worn inside if six-foot distancing can’t be maintained, among other things.

As of Tuesday, Neshoba was 6th behind, Hinds, Lauderdale, Madison, Scott and DeSoto counties in the number of coronavirus cases.

Neshoba County ranked 8th in the number of coronavirus deaths behind Lauderdale, Pearl River, Forrest Monroe, Holmes, Leflore and Hinds.

What’s confounding health officials is the high number of cases in more rural Neshoba and surrounding counties.

The number of coronavirus cases here is similar to counties with six times our population.

Fifteen Neshoba County families have lost loved ones to the coronavirus since mid-March. That is a lot of suffering.

There have been no deaths in Winston County, while Leake is reporting four. There have been 44 deaths in Lauderdale County. 

There would seem to be no rhyme or reason, but it’s really too early. The data are not in and may not be for a while.

There have got to be underlying factors like chicken plants, casinos and regional hospitals, but no one knows for sure.

The point of the state’s April 1 Shelter in Place order was to get control so as not to overwhelm the medical system, test and treat. The high projections of death nationally never materialized because Americans did the right thing.

We still need to be taking precautions and using common sense, but we can’t break the economy. Shutting down much longer will result in death and suffering on a scale unseen in modern times.

President Trump has led an incredible national response and Congress has responded with stimulus spending that is helping a lot of Americans survive.

What is starving many Americans, particularly here in Neshoba County, is the inability to gather in person for worship on the Lord’s Day. There is no state or national prohibition, simply a request by the authorities to abide by the suggestions.

We have seen authoritarian swipes at power here in our own community that were quickly checked.

The U.S. Constitution limits government unlike anywhere else in the world and oftentimes during this China virus pandemic we’ve seen people are quick to give up freedoms for perceived safety. 

Create a crisis only the government can fix and you get authoritarianism, which, as the Founders recognized, could quickly lead to tyranny.

This crisis, as much as it is about world health, is about our American freedom, our God-given liberty. The crisis is about human suffering, the deaths of loved ones taken by COVID-19, loneliness, insolation, the loss of jobs or the lifelong dream of a business built from the ground up by hard work gone. 

 Hardly a soul anywhere hasn’t been touched by suffering in some way, even innocent children and the mentally challenged who have had their routines with generous hugs interrupted indefinitely. 

God made us relational beings, and this crisis has been difficult, but no surprises because we live in a fallen world. Bad things happen to good people, yet not outside the providence of a loving God who sent his son Jesus to save sinners.

In Psalm 91, the psalmist was facing plague and pestilence, yet cried out, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’” That is our hope in a corona hotspot.

A glimpse of normalcy returned on Monday when barbers shops and beauty salons opened. 

The enjoyment of a sit-down meal in a restaurant had come Thursday — and most families broke out of quarantine to celebrate Mother’s Day in some modified form.

Stay safe, hope in the Lord, follow the guidelines and we will endure.