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Guard against COVID-19

A consistent, clear-headed approach needs to prevail when it comes to the new coronavirus.

Reaction to the threat of COVID-19 is wildly different among various groups of people. Some folks are extremely vigilant about handwashing, wearing masks and avoiding unnecessary contact with people they don’t live with.

Others have a carefree or even reckless attitude, claiming the virus is a hoax or declaring that they’d rather take their chances than the appropriate precautions. That might be OK, if they weren’t also putting others at risk.

Such inconsistency is making it more difficult for health officials to get control of the outbreak. A clear example of that is available right here in the Ohio Valley — in Belmont County, in fact.

A couple of weeks ago, a group of more than 90 teens and young adults traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. That may seem like a normal summer occurrence, and the trip has been termed a “rite of passage” for young people in the Bellaire area.

According to Rob Sproul, deputy director of the Belmont County Health Department, though, the travelers did not remain wary enough of the virus while they were vacationing in an area where the concentration of infections is high. As a result, they brought it home with them.

As of Friday, 25 of the 45 members of the group who hail from Belmont County had tested positive for COVID-19.

Hopefully, all of those who contracted the illness will recover at home without complications. But who else did they expose to the disease before they became ill or got tested?

At least one of the individuals who picked up the coronavirus on the beach trip works at Kroger in Bellaire. Another employee of the store also tested positive for the virus. The store had to be sanitized to protect workers and customers after the diagnoses were received.

Other residents who traveled to places such as Florida, Texas and Arizona also brought the illness back home with them.

Prior to the beginning of vacation season, Belmont County had made great strides in combating the virus. The daily tally of new positive test results had slowed to a trickle, with no change at all on a couple of days. It is a shame that such an optimistic trend has come to a halt. Based on information from Sproul, we expect to see many more positive test results announced in the coming days.

We can’t change what has already happened, but we can learn from these incidents and make wiser choices in the future. We urge readers to educate themselves and their families about COVID-19 and how it is transmitted and to then take the proper precautions to help protect everyone in the community.

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