Coronavirus: Be Prepared, Not Panicked
Like most places today, the Coronavirus is dominating a lot of the talk on Capitol Hill. As it has become clear that China's efforts to contain the virus have failed, and there have now been deaths in the U.S., concern has grown about a possible outbreak here at home. We've seen that concern directly with what has happened on Wall Street with the markets.
With all this news, and the almost non-stop coverage in the media, it would be easy to become panicked. But instead of panic, it's better to be prepared and informed.
Vice President Pence to Head Up Coronavirus Efforts
Last week, President Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to head up the federal government's efforts to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus here in the United States. I've known the Vice President for more than a decade now and consider him a close friend. So, I can say without hesitation, I cannot think of a better person to head up this task force. VP Pence at the helm gives me a lot of comfort and it should you as well.
President Trump and the Vice President will bring the full resources of the federal government to bear in fighting and containing this potential risk.
Alabama State Health Officer in Washington
On a more local level, I met with Alabama's State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris. He gave me and my staff an update on efforts within Alabama to prepare for the virus. Currently, if someone were to be suspected of having the virus, a sample would have to be sent to Atlanta for testing. But within the next few weeks, the state health lab in Montgomery will be able to do this testing, speeding up results.
Harris told me that hospitals are preparing, just in case. They have also provided guidance to local doctors' offices and clinics.
According to the CDC, here are some practical tips to follow in order to reduce risk of infection:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- 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 wipes.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Vaccinations - Stay up to date on vaccinations, including the influenza vaccine.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Maintain at least six feet of distance from anyone exhibiting obvious symptoms.
- Stay home when you are sick.
It's best to be prepared rather than to get panicked or worked up over things you read on social media. Things like Facebook and Twitter can certainly be useful, but in situations like this, they seem to spread more misinformation than anything helpful. Also, it helps to put things in perspective. Each year, up to 61,000 people die in the U.S. alone from the seasonal flu. The current worldwide death toll from the Coronavirus is around 3,000.
The bottom-line: The coronavirus is something to take seriously, but no more so than the seasonal flu. So, take the same precautions you would with the flu.
Be prepared. And leave the panic behind.