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This is the time to use caution, not give in to panic

We are together in a moment of great uncertainty. It is a time when all of our lives are being disrupted as we come together to fight one common enemy. All of your state’s leaders are working hard, following the lead of experts, to combat the COVID-19 virus and prevent its spread in our communities.

There is another enemy at this time. There is another disease. It is also global, but much older than the novel coronavirus. It is, historically, even more deadly, and it is far more contagious. That disease is panic.

This is a time for great caution. There is a difference between caution and panic.

Caution leads you to stock up on essentials and prepare your family for time in the home together. Panic moves you to hoard essentials and prevent others from getting what they need. Caution leads you to wash your hands and practice social distancing. Panic moves you to despair and fear your neighbors.

In times like these, there are always loud voices fanning the flames of fear. Please consider the source of any information you see, before you share it.

We must have a healthy respect for the serious nature of this virus. Do not act irresponsibly–putting your family and neighbors at risk. But do not give into the voices of irrational fear that tell you we will not return from this journey. We will make it home and emerge stronger than ever.

During my first State of the State address, I shared Romans 12:12. I believe it gives each of us a powerful charge in these uncertain times: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” That is what I will personally strive to do as we address this pandemic. I hope you may find that to be a helpful goal as well.

Anxiety and panic can be as dangerous to you as any physical illness. Please do not give in to them. We need you. Mississippi needs you. Your neighborhood needs you. Your place of work needs you. Your family needs you.

We need you to act calmly — protecting those you have been tasked to protect.

We need you to be smart — preventing the spread of this virus and panic.

We’re counting on you. We’re all counting on each other. I’ll aim to do my part, and I know that you will do yours too. We’re Mississippians — Americans — and that’s what we do.

Stay tuned for more information and updates on all of the practical matters we must deal with very soon.

Stay safe. Protect one another. Keep your head high and don’t give in to irrational fear. We’re coming through this as a state.

Tate Reeves is the 65th governor of Mississippi. His office can be reached at 601-359-3150.