Our view: Stay calm, wash your hands and stop hoarding toilet paper
The outbreak of COVID-19, a new strain of the coronavirus, has been declared a “public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health and a public health emergency for the U.S. The situation is serious, but we need to respond with calm, rather than panic, and as a community, we must rely on thoughtful, data-based information as we navigate the unknowns of this new illness.
Right now, we’re all experiencing information overload, and it’s easy to fall victim to screaming voices on TV or unsubstantiated posts shared on social media. Because the situation is evolving and there are still a lot of unknowns, we must seek out calm, authoritative voices.
It’s also good practice to avoid passing on rumors or sharing false information on social media. Snopes.com is one resource for checking the accuracy of the information you’re reading, and please realize you could do great harm among your friends and community if you pass on false information.
People would be wise to seek out information about COVID-19 from trusted news sources that are getting their information from public health agencies and other experts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization are great places to go if you have questions about COVID-19, and in Colorado, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is the organization doing the testing and alerting the public and media about confirmed cases of the virus.
News about COVID-19 is changing by the minute. After writing this editorial, we received news this morning that Gov. Jared Polis had declared a state of emergency for the state of Colorado with 15 confirmed cases.
This is not a time to overreact. Instead, it’s a time for thoughtful preparedness. The virus has not been contained, and according to the CDC, the complete clinical picture of the virus is unknown. What we do know is symptoms of the virus range from very mild in the majority of cases to very severe among older people and those suffering from underlying health conditions, like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.
According to the CDC, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low for the majority of people because most communities in the U.S. are not yet experiencing widespread circulation of the virus.
At issue: The COVID-19 outbreak is serious and has been declared a public health emergency in the U.S. and the state of Colorado.
Our View: This is not a time to panic but a time for thoughtful, fact-based preparation.
- Logan Molen, publisher
- Lisa Schlichtman, editor
- Jason Gilligan, community representative
- Don Moss, community representative
We also can recommend some simple steps to take to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19:
• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. This is about the time it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. We also like the meme we’ve seen that suggests people wash their hands like they’ve just chopped up a jalapeno pepper and are getting ready to put in their contacts.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, or use your inner elbow.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
• Stay at home if you are sick.
• Stop shaking hands.
• Don’t buy masks. Save those for health care providers.
• Clean surfaces in your home and personal items like cellphones using household cleaning products.
People are also encouraged to prepare for the possibility of having to stay home due to a local outbreak, quarantine or to protect your health. It is advised to have two weeks of supplies on hand, including nonperishable food, water, hygiene items, batteries and other essentials. But we do think buying hundreds of rolls of toilet paper is taking preparation too far.
We suggest buying a jigsaw puzzle or a deck of cards, and it’s also a great time to pull out those old board games. During a time of angst, spending time with your family can help relieve some of the stress and uncertainty.
It’s also important for people to know that our local health care agencies and hospital are monitoring the outbreak and have protocols in place to respond quickly, if and when we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Steamboat Springs or Routt County. This should provide us all with some peace of mind, knowing our local experts are prepared and ready to act for the safety of the entire community.
And as the outbreak continues to evolve and change, the Steamboat Pilot & Today is committed to providing readers with fact-based, up-to-date information about COVID-19.
Today, the Pilot & Today is beginning a regular “What you need to know about the coronavirus” article that we’ll use to answer readers’ questions about the virus and update the community on recent developments surrounding the outbreak. And by using our new commenting platform, you can get alerts when we publish stories about COVID-19 by clicking on “Follow COVID-19” that appears on the bottom of any story we’ve written about the coronavirus. A page has also been created on SteamboatPilot.com where all COVID-19 stories will be posted.
Again, don’t panic, stay informed and follow common-sense practices to keep yourself safe.
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