If there was any doubt we are now living in a new, vastly changed world, those misgivings should have been appropriately vanquished during the weekend.

That means all of us should be carefully considering how we are going to move forward under the cloud created by the new coronavirus. There continues to be an undercurrent of doubt about the seriousness of the coronavirus, a kind of it’s-not-that-bad type of attitude, and while no one can accurately gauge the outcome of this new malady, it is important that all of us take it seriously.

How serious does the government take it? In a nearly unprecedented move, the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates on Sunday to nearly zero. It also said it will purchase $700 billion in Treasury securities. What that means in the big picture is federal officials believe the coronavirus pandemic carries the real potential to severely slam our economy — an economy that has, for the most part, been humming along for years.

School districts across Eastern Oregon have closed, and Gov. Kate Brown decided Monday to close the state’s bars and restaurants and ban gatherings of more than 25 people in response to the coronavirus. The governor faces a nearly insurmountable challenge. On one hand, she must do all that is necessary to protect Oregonians but, on the other, also must know that thousands of small businesses could be in jeopardy if measures prove to be too draconian.

But this virus may force the governor’s hand, and the longer she waits to develop a way forward, the more dangerous the situation will become.

More than anything, though, we must all remember not to panic. That is becoming, apparently, an increasingly difficult concept to sink in, judging by the empty shelves at local grocery stores. President Donald Trump urged Americans to “calm down” in his press conference on Sunday, and we agree.

There is no need to rush to local stores and buy hundreds of dollars of goods. The American supply system — as robust as any in the world — continues to function. That means there aren’t going to be widespread shortages of food and other items if we all act with some sense.

We may run the risk of becoming a broken record regarding the need not to panic. We’ll take that risk. That’s because the only way we are going to overcome this major and massive challenge will be to act in a reasonable, clear-headed manner.

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