Neighbors, Regrettably, our government has not been very clear or consistent in delivering guidance to citizens on what we should be doing in light of the growing coronavirus pandemic. Because testing for coronavirus has not yet been sufficient to tell us how many people have it and where they are congregated, our local governments and health boards are not in a position to give specific guidance, or take targeted actions like closing schools in affected areas, limiting social gatherings, etc. Seems some practical guidance is called for.

You may have heard the term “social distancing.” In short, it means limiting your contact with others so that the spread is slowed. Testing, health care asset allocation and social distancing keep the cases from spiking across the nation. This is relevant to “flatten the curve.” If we can spread out the period people get infected with this thing, then hospitals can handle the most serious cases. If infections spike, hospitals can’t. So what to do as good neighbors?

We’ve all heard that most people will not die from this. This is true. Not to put to fine a point on it, but most people who contracted the Spanish Flu didn’t die either.  Young people and those who are not immuno-compromised should mostly do just fine. But that’s not the point. When not-at-risk people spread it, those at risk get it. We healthy and young folks have a responsibility to others not to take this casually. Think of everyone you know who is in an at-risk category, I have plenty of friends, family, Riverview neighbors who are at risk. We must take precautions, not because this is likely to kill the majority of folks, but because we have a duty to those who are most vulnerable. So, what it is our civic duty, our neighborly duty, now?

First, call your vulnerable friends, family, and neighbors and let them know this this is serious enough to start taking precautions and you will help if you can. Some news channels aren’t presenting it as serious. Vulnerable folks may be getting misinformation. It’s not time to panic. It’s time to be smart. And as neighbors, we can be helpful. We should check on our neighbors, volunteer to pick up groceries, medications, pet supplies, if they are at risk. We can help keep them safe.

Second, we should all wash hands thoroughly (for 20 seconds) throughout the day, soap and water. A neighborhood pediatrician has told me it’s the 20 seconds, not the water temperature, that is important. This is helpful. Use hand sanitizer if you have it, but don’t stress if you don’t.

Third, start social distancing to the extent it is practical for you: limiting your large group social activities and keeping a distance of 6 feet from folks, if you can. This may change when we have better numbers in our own, specific areas, but for now, we have to assume this is just spreading around us. We and the organizers of the Tulsa Tough race in June will keep all this in mind as the situation may warrant. We don’t want to make it worse. That said, we shouldn’t run scared or panic. There are easy things we can do, and we should do them, like common sense things such as limit hand shaking, stop touching our eyes, nose and mouth, etc. It spreads usually from coughing and sneezing.

Fourth, if you have been in direct contact with someone who has it, or if you have a fever or display any flu like symptoms, go home from work and call your doctor or local health department for instructions. It does not mean you have it; but you don’t want to spread it around if you do. The Oklahoma Department of Health coronavirus hotline is 877-215-8336.

This is unnerving stuff, but we can band together to protect the most vulnerable among us. Let’s do this and be the good people and neighbors we know we are.

Rick Eagleton, President.

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