President Donald Trump suspended all travel to and from Europe for 30 days, Twitter execs told all employees to work from home, the Pentagon put a stop to member visits to countries with coronavirus cases for 60 days, and the NBA formally suspended its season after one player tested positive for the virus.
The coronavirus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, has officially entered panic zone.
And there’s more: Schools around the nation are closing, are considering closing and are canceling events left and right, from proms to perhaps graduation ceremonies. The NCAA basketball tournament will go forth — so far — but without attending fans. March Madness, indeed.
Hollywood is up in arms, wondering how best to protect itself — how best to avoid a Tom Hanks-Rita Wilson infection.
All but six states in the United States have reported cases of coronavirus; nearly three dozen of them have resulted in fatalities.
Cities are canceling St. Patrick’s parades; the National Guard was sent to a suburb in New York to help contain the virus; churches are shuttering; Harvard, Duke, Yale, Cornell, Princeton — all these universities and more have suspended classes and told students to get their lessons online.
Trump just canceled a planned rally in Colorado. A Senate staffer just tested positive — and that means Capitol Hill is poised for a clearing of the population, just wait and see.
And you can’t find a bottle of hand sanitizer on a store shelf anywhere in America any more.
Now comes this headline from The Hill: “Tests indicate coronavirus can survive in the air.”
That’s after days of being told the virus was not transmitted through the air, unless direct contact was made with a sneezer’s sneezy stuff, or a cougher’s coughy matter.
“Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for 42 multiple hours and on surfaces up to days,” states the study from scientists at Princeton University, the University of California-Los Angeles and the National Institutes of Health.
The study’s still awaiting peer review. But the message is out — so, too, will be the face masks.
It’s officially panic time, it seems. The markets reflect the unease.
Trump, in an Oval Office speech, called for a setting aside of politics and a national spirit of unity. Cooler heads would be good, too.
Cooler heads and a media narrative that doesn’t sensationalize.
As Trey Watkins, the senior vice president of global health and corporate responsibility for GCI Health, said in a PR Daily remark on Feb. 28: “I think we have to remember that the large majority of the world’s population are not infectious disease experts.”
Granted, that statements was made a couple weeks ago.
But the message still holds true. And so does the number one advisement from the real health professionals: Wash your hands. Frequently. That’s simple. That’s hardly medically complicated. And that’s still key to containing the spread of the virus.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.
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