Over the past week, The Daily Item has told the stories of some Valley families who have been impacted by COVID-19. The stories are heartbreaking, sad and, in some instances, even troubling.

As difficult as these stories are to read, it is important that residents across our Valley see them. They aren’t meant to scare people or create a panic.

They are to let us all know what COVID can do to a person, to a family. They are to inform us all that COVID-19 is here, it is real and it is deadly.

It is not a hoax or fake news. It is as real as anything and it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Some of our elected officials have been warning us for months. Our health care leaders, front-line workers and educators — our neighbors and our families — have been pleading for Valley residents to do the right things, the things repeated for the last nine months: Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands.

We plan to tell as many stories as we can in the coming weeks because we think they are important.

For some families, telling their story is cathartic. For others, they want to ring the warning bells that we have all heard even louder.

Listen to what they say. Many of them were cautious and still became ill. Others were vigilant in their mitigation practices and let their guard down once.

But here is what they tell us:

“Because we were being careful I didn’t expect to get it.”

“It’s real. It’s scary.”

“There’s no joking around about this.”

“It hurts more than you can comprehend.”

“People aren’t expendable.”

Almost all of them said they never thought it would happen to them or their family. Invincibility can be a dangerous thing in our current climate.

With COVID-19, no one is exempt.

So we impress upon you to read these powerful stories and use them to make decisions that will keep us all safe as we continue to battle this pandemic.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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