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The importance of washing hands

By Judith Victoria Hensley

Contributing Columnist

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There are many “bugs” and “viruses” floating around these days. Last week I had a sty and pink eye without having been exposed to anyone with the same condition that I knew of. So, how in the world did I get it?

An invisible source somewhere in public had to be the culprit. Was it in the grocery store? A doctor’s office? At the wellness work out program? In another store? From a gas station?

The truth is, we all come in contact with surfaces by the dozens outside our own home that we can’t control. There are viruses in abundance out there.

Especially concerning right now is the hype about the Coronavirus. I don’t ever remember seeing as much news dedicated to an illness from the first publicly documented case. Everything I hear makes it sound worse and worse.

Aren’t we country folk glad we don’t live in New York City, Seattle, San Diego, Dallas, or Tampa? The population centers of our nation seem as if they would be at the greatest risk with so many people pressed in together, living in close proximity. However, all it takes is one person who unknowingly has the virus to carry it in many directions to unsuspecting people.

With spring break coming up and millions of college students with travel plans in all directions, we are all at risk. Contamination from other people in hotels, resorts, airplanes, stores, restaurants – the possibilities are endless. BUT there is something we can do to help protect ourselves and it is very simple – HAND WASHING.

According to professionals who are gearing up for the possible national consequences, anyone who works in public jobs or goes out in public needs to wash their hands at least once an hour and try to avoid touching their face, rubbing eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching contaminated surfaces is a known way that Coronavirus can spread. Other viruses and diseases can also be spread this way. So, why not add this simple, effective, easily accomplished routine to our day? Antibacterial liquids will do if no sink, soap, and warm water are available.

According to various news reports, almost 100,000 are documented as having or had the Coronavirus. That in no way accounts for the ones who had a mild case and were never diagnosed. Over 50 countries have documented cases of the virus, including the United States. No one wants to see a public panic in which people respond with fear instead of common sense.

I’ve bought some extra Clorox wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, and some nonperishable groceries. That’s not a panic. That’s a sensible “just in case.” Even if I don’t need extra, they will sit on my shelves and get used in the course of time.

One bit of TV news that caught my attention was a gentleman at the top of the health chain proclaiming that anywhere from 40-70% of the world population might get the virus. Out of that, the number of deaths is impossible to estimate. But out of the 327 million people in the United States, that means a possible 138 million on the low end of the estimate to 229 million on the high end of the estimate might be affected if the virus hits pandemic level in the US.

And our best defense in an ordinary daily life since there are nowhere near enough face masks to go around and currently no immunizations? WASH OUR HANDS!

Personally, I plan to stay away from large public events for a while. The handling of this worldwide health threat is still in development. Even those at the top don’t know the best way to handle what they’ve never had to handle before. Pointing fingers and pointing out failures abroad and in the US are nonproductive. We can all share the responsibility of trying to beat this thing and stay healthy starting with the simple effort of washing our hands regularly and thoroughly.