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THE LAST WORD: We all have to do our part to beat virus

Kerry Hubartt

Is this all too much to ask to save lives and stop a pandemic?

When our government officials give orders, make suggestions and list guidelines for us all to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, do we take them seriously? Or do we just go on with our daily lives the way we had been before?

After all, daily life in America (and much of the rest of the world) is simply not like it was before.

In a recent column I halfway mocked the idea of the NCAA holding its men’s basketball tournament without fans when it was suggested as a possibility a couple weeks ago. Then the whole tournament was canceled.

Since then, virtually everything else has been canceled or indefinitely postponed along the way, including the IHSAA tournament, the Komets’ season, the NBA, Major League Baseball, shows, meetings and on and on.

Schools, even universities, have closed. Restaurants are closed. Churches are closed. Things keep changing.

We’ve all been asked to practice social distancing, staying at least six feet apart in personal contact.

Gov. Eric Holcomb last week announced even more stringent measures, saying Indiana will adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for large events and mass gatherings in which there should be no in-person events of more than 50 people. (The White House coronavirus task force recommends avoiding social gatherings of more than 10 people. See their guidelines at whitehouse.gov.)

According to indiana.gov, here are some other measures the governor listed:

• Bars, nightclubs and restaurants are required to close to in-person patrons and may provide take-out and delivery services through the end of March.

• Hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers should cancel and/or postpone elective and non-urgent surgical procedures immediately. This action will help the healthcare system conserve resources and personnel.

Many businesses have ordered employees to work from home. Some have laid off workers because of the coronavirus. Some of these things we can’t do anything about. But the CDC lists procedures we should be following individually every day. Are we?

My wife and I have been holed up at home for the past week going nowhere but a couple of doctor’s appointments. We have been trying to keep up with the requests for social distancing and other actions designed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Among things the CDC recommends:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

• Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care. Learn what to do if you are sick.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

• Throw used tissues in the trash.

• Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

• If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Are you following these suggestions? I fear many people are not. And that’s why the coronavirus spreads and why someone you know and love may be infected.

There aren’t a lot of answers yet as to how long this will last or whether things will get even worse. But it’s good to know there are many very smart people working together to help us get through it.

So let’s do our best to work together and cooperate so we can return to what used to be the normal routines of our daily lives as soon as possible.

— Kerry Hubartt is former editor of The News-Sentinel

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