We get it.

We are social beings, and what we are being asked to do to combat the deadly coronavirus goes against our human nature.

Staying home. Staying away from our friends — and even some of our family members.

But we are living during a time when social gatherings can spread disease and death.

That’s why we must follow social distancing guidelines.

The urgent call from health professionals and our elected leaders to stay at least 6 feet from others, avoid crowds and gatherings of any size and avoid travel is being issued for good reason.

People are dying.

And, as Gov. Andy Beshear has stressed, these upcoming weeks are especially critical if we are to stem the tide of this horrible, highly contagious illness.

COVID-19 is spreading fast and taking out people in its path. About 80% of those who get it have mild or no symptoms. That means people could have it and not even know and pass it to vulnerable people.

Again, if you are in close proximity to other people, you’re more likely to get the virus, take it home and unknowingly infect your mother or grandmother. Older people and those with chronic health conditions are more likely to die from this disease. So by gathering with others, you are putting your loved ones — and anyone you come into contact with — at risk.

It’s a life or death decision.

Across the country, more than 160,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus, and more than 3,000 people have died. Two top doctors have warned President Trump that the virus could kill as many as 200,000 people in the U.S. during this outbreak.

In Kentucky, where nearly 500 people have tested positive and 11 have died, the number of cases grows daily. And the commonwealth is particularly vulnerable. Nearly half of Kentucky adults — 1.6 million people — have pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and COPD that put them at risk of serious illness if they were to get COVID-19.

Kentucky has the highest rate of cancer deaths out of all 50 states. About 14% of adults have diabetes, compared to 11% nationwide, and 39% of Kentuckians have high blood pressure.

Chances are you know people who fit one or more of these categories. Are you honestly willing to put those family and friends at risk of dying just to play golf or basketball, watch a street race or shop at a crowded store?

Come on, Kentuckians. It’s time that everyone in our community confronts this challenge with respect for each other and adheres to social distancing rules.

Together, we can beat this.

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