Maybe it’s time to stop dwelling on the COVID-19 head count.

Initially, it was international news from China, later Italy and eventually most everywhere, each coming with specific case numbers and mounting death tolls.

The tally became a way to track it’s progress. It startled us when the first confirmed cases reached American shores. We waited in denial as coastal cities reported increasing incidents. As it spread, so did the reports of new states with infected individuals.

Eventually, it was found to be in Kentucky and the cases have increased ever since. We’ve continued to keep score.

The Centers for Disease Control’s website, which is packed with information about staying safe and monitoring your health, updates its count nightly.

Gov. Andy Beshear somberly updates Kentucky each night, his totals accounting for new cases and deaths from this highly contagious virus.

We no longer need to focus on the numbers to understand COVID-19 is a public health threat. The pandemic is real.

“Folks, it’s everywhere now,” Beshear said.

In its daily report on COVID-19, the Lincoln Trail District Health Department said it this way: “The rise in numbers within our counties is expected. The increase in cases that we will experience are not a negative reflection on our hard work to contain this disease, but instead an indication of the highly contagious nature of the virus.”

Keeping score to compare the U.S. to Italy, Kentucky to Tennessee, is no longer is an indication of the danger or risk.

The numbers never truly have reflected its impact anyway because COVID-19 tests are being rationed. In most cases, the diagnostic tool is given only to respiratory patients ill enough to require hospitalization. People with mild symptoms who able to rest at home and get better may never get laboratory confirmation. Not being part of the count doesn’t help them recuperate any faster or make them any less contagious.

Focusing on the numbers alone diminishes the impact and sense of loss. This is not a disease impacting numerals. This new coronavirus is harming and even killing people. The only value in the numbers now is knowing how many families to pray for.

It’s time to assume we all have been exposed or soon will be. Take the appropriate precautions. Avoid unnecessary travel, stay away from people who have weakened immune systems, wash your hands frequently and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.

Take your eyes off the scoreboard and focus on doing what you can to help us all reach the other sideline safely.

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