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Editor's Note: Now is the time to be calculated and practical as we face of COVID-19

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We are undoubtedly in historic times. Sports have been canceled. Schools closed indefinitely. Government offices closed. Local store shelves have been picked clean and nursing homes cannot allow visitors except in end-of-life situations. It’s a very fine line between panic and taking the facts for what they are, but neither heads in the sand nor mass hysteria will help us now.

We have to be very calculated and practical and hopefully we can ride out this wave without too much loss of life, though we all know any is too much.

I’m proud that while pictures are circulating of stores nationwide appearing to be barren madhouses, our local stores kept a stock of the essentials. As it has had to prove time and time, again, Magoffin is resilient. 

Know that we will continue to share as much important information as we possibly can for as long as we can, but remember that we, too, are a small business. We have families we will continue to protect. We have a community to keep informed and we do not take this job lightly. 

As it stands, in case anyone reading this is living under a rock, COVID-19, the new coronavirus, is believed to be in every community in Kentucky, even though this region (at press time) has had zero positive tests. The total number of cases in Kentucky is currently at 35, though that is expected to go up. As Governor Andy Beshear said Monday night, we cannot keep acting like it something that may or may not come – it’s already here. There is no vaccine for it and it appears to be quite contagious, so the best advice the CDC, WHO and all the powers that be can tell you is to wash your hands with soap and water (at least 20 seconds) frequently, practice social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart at all times), avoid crowds (now recommended to avoid groups of 10 or more), and to basically stay home. If you’re sick, just assume it’s COVID-19 and quarantine yourself to avoid spreading it any further. Only seek medical care if you would have sought it regardless of the ongoing pandemic. 

Especially for those at risk, the CDC recommends having access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time. This is a respiratory illness, so things like Mucinex, fever-reducing medications, tissues, a good thermometer and maybe an oximeter could be useful. 

While often compared to the flu, COVID-19 has an exponentially higher mortality rate that is not to be taken lightly. Though 80% of the people who get this will be perfectly fine, there will be a chunk of the population that will not. The flu has an average mortality rate of 0.1%, but COVID-19’s is around 2%. One of the scarier facts is that in people over the age of 60 and those with pre-existing risk factors (diabetes, heart, lung, kidney or liver disease, chronic illnesses, etc.) the mortality rate is somewhere between 15 and 20%. With the anticipated numbers of people expected to get the virus, 2% of a lot is still a lot.

By the time this prints, the local government offices will be closed. The governor has passed orders that will extend expiration dates on licenses by three months for now. The Primary Election has been rescheduled for June 23. Childcare centers and adult daycares will be closing as the end of the day Friday. All restaurants are to be closed for dine-in services, allowing only for curbside pickups and delivery. All “public-facing businesses,” including our hair salons, theaters, nail salons, spas, gyms and entertainment centers, are closed. 

All health facilities are canceling and/or rescheduling all non-essential appointments and people needing to go to the doctor or to the hospital are asked to call the facility beforehand so they can assess what kind of care you need and how to isolate you, as needed, not only to keep you from spreading anything, but also to keep you from coming into contact with anything else. 

If you’re a praying person, pray for these healthcare workers. They are on the frontlines, watching this storm raging toward them, and they’re still showing up for work every day to take care of our loved ones. Pray for the truck drivers and the retail workers. They are invaluable to us all right now and they are putting themselves at risk to keep our world turning.

Since this will inevitably result in a lot of job loss, the governor has also pushed orders that waive the waiting period to apply for unemployment insurance (kcc.ky.gov), which will cover people temporarily laid off while in quarantine, as well as people who lost their jobs due to the closures and policy changes. 

Magoffin County is already in a state of emergency, opening the community up for resources when they are needed and available. Currently, the lack of available test kits is a problem nationwide, so not everyone with symptoms will be tested, with the tests reserved for the sickest patients first. With the testing opened to private labs, that is expected to get better over time.

The extensive prevention steps are two-fold, really. One, they are trying to cut down on the number of people exposed to the virus, and two, they are trying to keep from overextending the medical field’s capacity to treat patients. In other areas of the world people are simply not being treated because there’s just not enough ventilators to go around.  This is a serious threat and we need to take it as such.

So, when you see the president, the governor, the local county judge-executive or the mayor make hard decisions to close another office or business, just remember what we’re fighting, keep your eye-rolls to yourself and stay home. Like Governor Beshear said, it’s our patriotic duty at this point.

This is a fluid situation and we will continue to cover the changes as they come. 

As always, anyone with questions or concerns are encouraged to call Kentucky’s COVID hotline at 800-722-5725 or go to www.kycovid19.ky.gov. 

Be safe and be smart.
 

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Heather Oney

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