Our View: We should practice precaution, not panic, about coronavirus | TheUnion.com

Our View: We should practice precaution, not panic, about coronavirus

The Union Editorial Board

Turns out, your mom was right this whole time. It just took a worldwide virus to prove her right.

Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Really scrub. Don’t just stick them under the tap for a few moments. Spend 20 seconds.

And do it often.

You can’t avoid news of the coronavirus, called COVID-19. It’s pushing news of the presidential primary to the sidelines and dominating headlines. Hand sanitizer and toilet paper are disappearing from the shopping store aisles. The stock market is falling like a dead pine tree. Rumors of infection are starting to spread, you might say, like a virus.

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It’s clear at this point that the coronavirus is a real threat, not to be taken lightly and not to be dismissed.

The fine line between panic and precaution is smudged. There’s wisdom in avoiding a cruise ship or large athletic event. Not so much in delaying the Forest Lake Christian girls basketball team championship game by two days — likely why it got pushed back even further, and ultimately canceled.

It’s clear at this point that the coronavirus is a real threat, not to be taken lightly and not to be dismissed. On Wednesday the World Health Organization officially called it a pandemic — a rapidly spreading disease that’s worldwide. There are over 118,000 cases across the globe in 114 counties, the WHO states. Over 4,000 people have died. Thousands more are in hospitals.

“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher,” the WHO’s director-general states. “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.”

No one has a crystal ball that foretells exactly how this will play out, but statements like this give us a road map. It also gives us a bit of hope. The director-general’s statement continues — “We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic.”

Of course, that means it’s up to our government, which means it’s up to us.

So keep washing your hands, and take the right precautions.

Local events have been canceled, postponed or significantly altered. County and state authorities have invoked emergency status. Officials are strongly advising people to avoid large crowds and keep a healthy distance from people when in public.

How serious are people taking this? Major League Baseball has suspended spring training, and delayed opening day by at least two weeks. The NBA and NHL have suspended their seasons and the NCAA basketball tournaments have been outright canceled for 2020.

The coronavirus will — and has already — affect companies that do business across our nation to the corner shop you frequent every week. From Nevada City to New York City, empty parking spaces and stores are going to impact the economy.

Our government advises us to telecommute, if possible. This is much more feasible in Placer County as opposed to here, where many of us continue to struggle with internet connectivity. That’s yet another reason for our local governments to fast track projects bringing more and improved connections to our community.

Something we all can do is follow the basic list of instructions issued by the county: stay home if sick, cover your cough or sneeze, avoid touching your face and keep your distance from people who are ill.

And listen to your mother about washing your hands.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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