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Be cautious, aware but also sensible

Five cases of COVID-19, or coronavirus, have now been confirmed in Ohio, including one in Warren.

Thursday it came to light that five youngsters in Lakeview School District may have been exposed to the virus. They now are quarantined.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is not taking any risks, and has taken steps that some may describe as extreme.

This week DeWine and his health department director banned gatherings of more than 100 people. (The ban is not absolute and exempts airports, workplaces, restaurants, religious gatherings, weddings and funerals, and other events.)

DeWine also called for every public and private school in Ohio to close for three weeks beginning at day’s end Monday.

DeWine and Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton acknowledged the hardships and disruptions that the order will create but said it’s necessary to help Ohio through the current crisis.

Certainly, these precautions have created some frustrations.

Countless parents now are faced with arranging childcare for their little ones who will be home from school for weeks.

High school athletic teams that excelled had advanced to state-level competitions only to be disappointed by indefinite postponement of the games. Members of the West Branch girls basketball team were devastated to hear their game was postponed after they traveled to Columbus and were preparing for tipoff.

So, yes, the timing and the inconveniences are difficult to swallow, but at the end of the day, it’s hard to criticize the governor for being cautious.

In fact, DeWine should be recognized for being transparent and involved. He has been holding daily public briefings and sharing updates on each of the cases and about the steps that he and health officials believe are correct to curtail the virus’ spread.

Knowing how near to us the disease has come should encourage members of the public to step up precautions. That is just common sense.

We must share the concern and utilize all the tips we’ve been hearing. While many of those precautions are simple common sense we learned as children, sometimes it takes a frightening situation to remind us the importance of the basics.

If we all begin practicing those basics — like good handwashing with soap, coughing and sneezing into our sleeves, and staying home when we are sick — it probably will pay off in the long run.

Frankly, this new emphasis on basic methods of preventing disease transmission might lessen considerably the typical effects of the regular cold and flu seasons in the future. Don’t be surprised if we get to the end of 2020 with far fewer influenza deaths than usual.

Remember, while coronavirus can be deadly, the death toll from the seasonal flu typically reaches in to the tens of thousands each year — and Americans treat that as perfectly normal, if not acceptable!

So, be cautious and use those best practices to avoid taking unnecessary health risks.

But let’s do it with logic and reason!

Even Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost this week urged people not to overreact or resort to panic shopping in grocery stores. “Look folks, you don’t need four cases of toilet paper,” he said.

He’s right. Let’s be aware and cautious. But let’s also remain sensible.

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