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Coronavirus: Be calm and wash your hands

Johnson City Press • Mar 7, 2020 at 7:30 AM

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

There have not, as of yet, been any confirmed cases of COVID-19, the new strain of coronavirus, in our area.

For many people, this virus is particularly alarming, with its foreign origin, the speed at which it’s spreading and the highly publicized death count linked to it. We don’t understand it particularly well, and that’s distressing.

However, nearly every medical professional we’ve talked to is warning against public panic. These are the people who do understand COVID-19 and the threat it poses.

They say hysteria over this virus could be more damaging than the illness.

We’ve already seen shortages of face masks caused by worried people who rushed out to buy them after the first breathless reports of the novel coronavirus in the U.S. We’ve seen stock markets tank and major corporations ask their employees to work from home.

Instead of blind panic, the best way to combat COVID-19 is with a little knowledge and a sensible plan.

First, you’re not very likely to contract it. Even if you do, unless you’re already in a state of compromised health, you’re even less likely to die from it.

Like cold and flu viruses, frequent and adequate handwashing is the best defense. Avoid touching your face.

If COVID-19 does show up in our area, the local health system and school districts already have protocol in place. Knowing the plans in advance will help, and it will keep us from overreacting.

Johnson City Schools’ plan closely follows its procedures for flu outbreaks. A spike in absenteeism will trigger stepped-up cleaning and sanitizing practices.

Patients who physicians believe may have the virus will be isolated at one of several equipped Ballad facilities until tested by the state Health Department. Should infections grow, a single Ballad facility could be designated to treat them.

If the novel coronavirus comes to our area, we’re ready for it. Know the plan and be calm.

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