Community health above all else

Published 5:12 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It’s been a long week, with the growing COVID-19 concerns taking over most people’s thoughts, actions, work life and perhaps even personal life.

And while the raft of cancellations that were announced Thursday and Friday in response to Gov. Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency in Virginia was disappointing for people who had been looking forward to participating in or attending those events, and discouraging for people who are simply worried about the panic surrounding the pandemic, all of the cancellations are actually a good sign that folks here in Virginia are taking this public health crisis seriously. Experts say canceling these large events will help avoid community-spread virus outbreaks.

We applaud all of the folks who are making difficult but necessary decisions in these unprecedented times, putting the health of the community above all else. That is what is absolutely most important.

Here on the Peninsula, we’ve been hit especially hard. The Peninsula Health District has more than one-fifth of all the cases in the state, and the state’s only two deaths as of Monday had happened here locally. There is evidence of the disease spreading throughout the community, as both of the patients who died had not recently traveled and had no known contacts who have tested positive.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They will likely develop two to 14 days after exposure. If you have these symptoms, contact your medical provider, who can advise you further.

As with many viruses, basic prevention measures continue to be the easiest thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your neighbors:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow public health advice regarding avoiding crowds and social distancing.