If you haven’t heard much about the coronavirus outbreak in Albany, Georgia, you’re not alone. Until the New York Times ran a story on Tuesday focusing on the outbreak, most Americans had no idea that on a per capita basis, Albany’s coronavirus crisis is as big as New York City’s.

Bearing Arms’ Tom Knighton is at ground zero of the rural epicenter of the pandemic, and he joins me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to talk about how life has changed as the number of cases continues to spiral upwards, and whether or not residents are beginning to take the crisis seriously.

The outbreak in Albany began when an infected person attended two funerals in the area. As Tom points out, funerals in the South are social affairs as well as an opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones. After the graveside service, it’s common to return to a family member’s home for food, drink, and socializing. That was the nexus for the outbreak, and in the weeks since, hundreds of residents have become infected, dozens have been hospitalized, and at least 33 people have died as of noon on Tuesday.

To put that into perspective, last year in Albany, there were 13 homicides over the course of the entire year. In just one month, Albany has seen nearly three times as many deaths due to the coronavirus, and there’s no sign that the curve is starting to flatten yet.

Tom says the virus is in his neighborhood, and from his front door he can see three homes with families who have tested positive for the virus. Still, according to him, many residents in Albany still aren’t taking the situation as seriously as they should be.

Albany should be a warning for the rest of us. You only need a few individuals to spark a tsunami of cases that can quickly overwhelm the ability of local hospitals to respond and treat those in need. The local hospital in Albany, in fact, is now referring patients to other facilities miles away because they simply don’t have the room and the staffing to provide care for all of the locals who need it.

I’ve been watching what’s happened in Albany for several weeks now, and Tom and I have been talking regularly off-air about how the situation’s been changing. In my own county, we just had our first two cases formally diagnosed, and our local emergency management director has warned county supervisors that our numbers will quickly rise, because the two patients had participated in several large family gatherings recently, as well as visiting our county’s two grocery stores. It’s quite possible that we could find ourselves in a similar situation to Albany, albeit with a smaller population, in a matter of weeks.

There are many things to be concerned about right now, including government overreach, an erosion of civil liberties, and the need to defend them in a time of emergency. At the heart of the matter, however, is the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, and one that will become much worse if we allow the virus to spread unchecked. As gun owners, we will continue to protect and defend our rights during this emergency, but we also need to protect and defend ourselves and our families from this invisible killer, and the best way to do that is to take the threat seriously.

Also on today’s show, we have an armed citizen story from Florida featuring a mom of three and a home intruder who claimed to be running away from the dinosaurs that were chasing him, four teenagers in New York who are already back on the streets after allegedly beating and robbing a woman at a dollar store, and members of the Rochester, New York police department who are going above and beyond to ensure that at-risk individuals continue to get the food and essentials that they need while they’re self-isolating.