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Take virus seriously

It’s time for a different approach to the crisis we are facing.

It’s not that the official guidance provided at the local, state or federal levels is flawed. Instead, too many of us are simply ignoring that advice.

There is no question that a dangerous virus is circulating among the people of the world. Although it originated in China, it is now rampant in the Buckeye State and all the counties of Eastern Ohio.

Although we may not want this to be the case, the truth is undeniable. Each and every day, we hear reports from county health directors who say case numbers are growing — here and throughout the state and the nation.

When the virus that causes the illness known as COVID-19 first arrived in our region, the situation was quite frightening. Some of its earliest local victims became extremely ill and had to be hospitalized.

It infiltrated nursing facilities, where it quickly took a devastating toll. In what seemed like no time at all, 18 people in Monroe County had died.

As the weather warmed and doctors and scientists learned more about the pathogen, it seemed that we were bringing it under control. People were able to get outdoors more often, making activities safer even if we did encounter others. Medical personnel learned to manage some of its symptoms more effectively.

But the seasons have changed once more, driving people back indoors and closer together. Schools have reopened — then temporarily closed again. At least four local school districts shifted to online learning last week or will do so in the coming week due to rising rates of infections.

This illness isn’t spreading in our schools, though, if contact tracing is to be believed. Instead, health officials tell us, it is spreading mainly due to carelessness.

People are failing to wear their masks when interacting with individuals outside their households. In a few cases, people providing professional services to others are doing so without facial coverings, interacting very closely in settings such as salons and spas.

In other cases, people are getting together in larger groups than they should. They are celebrating birthdays and weddings with friends and extended family. They are coming together to mourn at funerals, comforting one another without regard for the potential danger of doing so — which can lead to more mourning.

If those assessments are accurate, we have no one but ourselves to blame for our failure to overcome this invisible enemy.

It’s time for everyone to take the coronavirus seriously. We need to stop letting disagreements divide us and come together to conquer this disease.

Wear your mask, keep your distance, wash your hands and make smart choices.

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