Don’t let the fear take over your life

We’re staring into the face of the unknown.

In December, information was reported on a new strain of the coronavirus found in an area of China. Eventually, it began to work its way around the world, with hundreds of thousands known to have it, and some having died as a result.

I want to stress one part of that… “known.” I’m not a medical professional, but I know enough that I understand that symptoms of any kind of virus, bacteria or disease take time to show. When there isn’t any testing being done, these conditions can exist without anyone realizing it.

We had an arrogance about this new strain of virus, whether it was because of where it originated, what we were being told by our nation’s leaders or just some other long-held belief, I don’t know.

Here the reality has only started to hit in the last couple of weeks. People began to take it seriously, rushing to the stores and buying up as much as they could — according to some, they found people purchasing items they didn’t even need (baby food for people without children) — and leaving shelves empty.

As of this writing, West Virginia was listed as the only state without a known case of COVID-19. Again, I stress the “known” part of that. West Virginia has only had tests available for about a week, and, as of 4:17 p.m. Saturday, there had been 31 tests reported by the state Department of Health and Human Resources. Of those, 26 were negative and five were still pending. More tests have most likely been issued, as commercial laboratories and some medical offices have been able to obtain testing kits, but those numbers won’t be reported until a positive case comes around.

In the meantime, we watch as portions of our communities shut down as part of ongoing precautionary measures.

I do think we’ve gone overboard in some ways, but I do understand. People have realized the seriousness of the situation. It’s not a media hoax. It’s not political. This is real and needs to be addressed.

Unfortunately, we’re well behind where we ideally should have been, and now people are freaking out. Schools are closing, community events have been canceled, even municipal offices have been closed to the public in some communities.

People have been urged to “self isolate” or use “social distancing,” which are just fad terms to say “don’t go into large crowds.”

We still need to take care of ourselves, but we also should use common sense…use proper hygiene, call your doctor if you aren’t feeling well (Seriously, call them first. Don’t just show up at their office.)

At the same time, we can’t let the fear completely run our lives.

Not everyone can stay at home or even telecommute for their jobs. They have to go to work.

It’s OK to patronize your local businesses, even if you have to get a drive through or carry out order from your favorite restaurant. In fact, I’m sure they would be appreciative of your purchase.

Go for a short drive through your town, or maybe take a walk; something to get outside of the house for even a little bit.

Keep in touch with your friends and family. Pick up the phone and call them, or send a message through social media. Let them know you are thinking of them if you are unable to see them.

If you are able, maybe even have a small gathering of people.

There is only so much isolation one can handle.

We don’t know how long this thing is going to be around. We need to be mindful of what we are doing, and do our best to prevent the virus’ spread, but we also can’t let the fear control us.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)