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EDITORIAL: Use caution in the days and weeks ahead

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Our opinion: Some say the reaction to coronavirus is extreme and over the top, but this is serious business. Every measure should be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19


People’s reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak run from panic to denial. 

The appropriate response is somewhere in the middle. Based on comments from people who really know and really understand this issue better than most of us — doctors and scientists — we’d all be wise to be cautious and prudent. 

That’s how the NCAA reacted when it canceled the “March Madness” basketball tournaments. That’s how Gov. Kristi Noem reacted when she asked schools to close for a week. That’s how Freeman Academy/Schmeckfest reacted by postponing Schmeckfest — and waiting to decide when) to reschedule. And that’s how a number of local churches reacted when they canceled Sunday morning worship services.

Some may say it’s an overreaction, but if we’re going to make a mistake, let’s do so on the side of caution. There are lives at stake if we get it wrong.

Think of the appropriate response as an abundance of caution.

“You’ve got to be almost overreacting a bit to keep up with it,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an interview on ABC News Sunday. “I like it when we think we’re overreacting,” he later told CNN. “That means we’re doing it right.

“People need to understand that things will get worse before they get better,” he continued. “What we’re trying to do is to make sure we don’t get to the worst-case scenario.”

We need to be, “open minded about whatever it takes to preserve the health of the American public,” he said.

Meanwhile, Freeman Regional Health Services has been paying attention to coronavirus and has taken steps to address the threat through both appropriate screen measures at its clinic and ER, as well as identifying how to respond should the pandemic have a direct impact on the Freeman community.

We’re in uncharted territory. But looking at what’s happening in Europe — mass closing and shutdowns — is instructive. Changing behavior, whether at the level of government or our personal choices, is the expected response.

And so, even if you’re not worried for yourself, be worried for others. Thus far, it looks like the most vulnerable are those who are elderly and those with compromised health. Show compassion and concern from them by listening to and following the instructions we’re getting from health care experts.

We’ve all seen what they are.

• Wash your hands frequently

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

• Cover your mouth and nose with your \bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

• Maintain physical social distancing/

• Stay home if you feel unwell. 

• If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

• Stay informed from credible sources and follow advice given by your healthcare provider.

Let’s be responsible and use an abundance of caution in the days and weeks ahead.


The Freeman Courier editorial reflects the opinion of publisher Jeremy Waltner and former publisher Tim L. Waltner