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Beverly Brooks Thompson laughs with someone practicing social distancing while she donates blood during a LifeShare emergency blood drive, Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at Thrive Academy in Baton Rouge, La.

Here’s a test. Think about how often you hear these words or phrases every day.

Coronavirus. COVID-19. No toilet tissue. No paper towels. No hand sanitizer. No clothes. Not enough test kits. Empty shelves at the store. Hoarding. Hoax. In the dangerous age group. Social distancing. Record lows in the stock market. The economy is in trouble.

The cacophony caused by those words is resulting in mental and emotional exhaustion for so many. As much as I have witnessed and experienced in my life, this is one for the books.

This is so serious. In the midst of this there are some real heroes out there, too. But you have to wade through the muck to get to them.

The hoarders are not the heroes.

I wonder if some of those people with 100 rolls of toilet tissue will give a few to the neighbors who come up short or to some elderly people in their community who can’t get out. We can all hope.

A good friend did make me laugh about the hoarding. She was in a local supermarket and was not surprised to see the paper goods gone, spaghetti gone and red beans gone.

Then, she looked in someone’s basket ahead of her and “I saw that she had 8 huge containers of chitterlings.” That’s hoarding to the nth degree.

There is so much important stuff to consider. Put six feet between you and the next person. Don’t shake hands or embrace people. Sometimes you forget and then minutes later you think about it.

On Tuesday, I saw an old high school classmate and football team member that I hadn’t seen in years at a local supermarket. Initially we followed the rule. We didn’t shake hands.

I think we were six feet apart most of the time. But, as we were about to leave, I asked someone to take a photo of us. We posed and I put my hand on his shoulder. Major violation! A technical foul!

I thought nothing of it until I posted the photo on my Facebook page. When I looked at the photo, it leapt out at me that this was the wrong thing to do. I was shocked. This is how easily we can unintentionally spread a deadly virus, especially to folk in my age group. Surely, I was no hero.

By Wednesday morning, I was paranoid. Every little thing, if I coughed, or had to rub my nose, I felt it was the initial stage of the coronavirus. Why did I put my hand on shoulder? I had let my guard down.

It took a while for me to let it go.

Is this where I am headed? But all was not bad during that interaction with my friend. I got a big laugh when he used an ancient flip phone to make a call.

Remember those new everyday words and phrases that are consuming our daily lives. Here are some others that we should think more about.

Schoolteachers. Lessons. Nurses. Doctors. Health Professionals. Parents teaching children. First responders. Community food banks.

I think parents are getting a good dose of what schoolteachers deal with daily. As one Facebook post I saw said: “Now you are finding out that the teacher wasn’t lying.” Another one said “Schoolteachers ought to be paid $5 billion dollars.”

The bravery and self-sacrifice of the doctors, nurses, orderlies and other hospital staff who are putting their lives and the lives of their families on the line while working through the pandemic. Yes, the people who clean those hospital rooms are my heroes, too.

Those people working in airplanes. Good Lord, they are trapped in a confined area with folks who could be could be infected with the coronavirus. You are heroes.

And there are so many others who are self-sacrificing to bring food and assistance to the needy and to the elderly. Heroes.

The late tennis great Arthur Ashe, one of my all-time favorite people, had a great definition of hero.

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever the cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever the cost.”

Email Edward Pratt a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column at

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