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Dear Editor, 

I have received a lot of negative messages and criticism from our people back home in regards to my message in the newspaper. A majority of the negative emails I received say that we don’t have any cases back home and so they don’t want to hear my plea of what I have witnessed right in front of my eyes. I have families back home that I really want to see before it’s too late. Please, for everyone’s sake, pass this message along to our people.

To my beloved people of American Samoa and for those of you that emailed me and criticized my message.

We are already in the midst of exponential growth in the coronavirus outbreak, with every indicator suggesting that the virus is now spreading unchecked within communities across the country.

The good news, though, is that if we act today instead of tomorrow we can prevent a huge number of infections, and prevent any chances of deaths. Time is of the absolute essence here, and it’s individual choices that matter the most.

Aggressive social distancing, avoiding all non-essential social contact, avoiding public places like bars, restaurants and movie theaters, and practicing obsessive hand hygiene are all critically important.

Now I know us Samoans have religious and traditions like church and funerals especially “Faalavelave”...please understand that the virus doesn’t even care about your title and status. Corona virus shows no respect!!!

If you have any cold or flu-like symptoms, assume you have the coronavirus and isolate yourself as strictly as possible until two to three days after all symptoms have resolved. If you develop shortness of breath, chest pain, confusion, or marked weakness, then please see a doctor ae aua le fia malosi!

It’s a rare situation when the lives of others are in the hands of regular people everywhere, young and old, rich and poor, no matter your occupation, and no matter how strong you are financially, no matter what family title you carry, no matter how fit you are physically, no matter where you live.

Heads up... We’re living it right now. So stop complaining because you have no idea how I will live with myself in the next few years after I witnessed what the coronavirus can do! Go to the Governor and the Government if you have a better solution. If not?!? Then please be part of the solution not the problem!

Please take it so, so seriously. If by chance our Government officials read this... I strongly recommend NOT TO LIFT THE LOCKDOWN YET!!!! Don’t let your guard down! One confirmed case in our small island — then God help us all!

Jake Tagaloa