We have decisions to make about the coronavirus.

That’s because more than 100,000 tourists could visit our area over the next few months.

Those visitors fuel the economy, and our people desperately need the work. But visitors may also spread the virus.

So here’s our question: How can we best allow businesses to restart yet still protect our people during the tourist season?

I think we must have more COVID 19 testing.

The official guidelines are too restrictive and too slow for a surge of visitors over the next few months. We need more and quicker testing for everyone who comes in regular contact with large numbers of the public.

The beach is one thing, a supermarket is entirely different.

And if our city and county fill up with visitors, we’ll need to get even more serious about wearing masks in crowded public places.

Now we have just two isolated cases in the whole county, yet outbreaks can begin quickly, even in small communities. Just a few infected people at a big gathering can set off a chain reaction that ends up sickening dozens or hundreds of others.

Our governor is working on plans to ease restrictions. Yet what fits Tallahassee or South Florida may not work for us. We need to prepare for a surge in visitors.

Because while there’s a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus, here’s what doctors absolutely know right now.

The virus spreads easily, even from people who don’t know they are infected.

There is no vaccine yet, and no proven treatment.

Our community has been brave and strong, and I’m thankful for all our sheriff, county commission and health department have done to keep people safe. But we need to make sure the sacrifices aren’t in vain.

The next few weeks will be tough, so remember that we will get back to visiting family and friends, going to restaurants and the beach, and to big church services.

And don’t forget how the generations before us made due with so much less than we have.

Our parents and grandparents sacrificed for us. Let’s follow their example, be thankful for all that we have, and do everything we can to protect senior citizens and those at high-risk. Not only that, some young people get the virus, too.

Everybody is stressed out, but remember to be compassionate, because while it is a terrible virus the people who get sick aren’t to blame.

Apalachicola Mayor Kevin Begos can be reached at kbegos@cityofapalachicola.com