Record editorial: Drastic measures to combat coronavirus are warranted and require residents to do their part
It’s a time for precautions but not one for panic.
The first four known cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, in Summit County were announced in recent days, an unsurprising but nonetheless disconcerting development as communities across Utah and the rest of the country continue to react to what the World Health Organization has declared a global pandemic.
The reaction to the coronavirus within the county and the rest of the state, where the total number of cases remained in single digits Friday afternoon, was sobering and swift. The governor called for a statewide restriction on gatherings of more than 100 people, Summit County declared a local emergency and issued a public health order and dozens of events in the Park City area were canceled due to concerns about the virus.
If those measures seem drastic, that’s because they are. In what appears to be the early stages of this public health crisis, they’re also warranted. We applaud the proactive steps meant to keep residents as safe as possible by slowing the spread of the virus.
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Doing so is critical, officials say, to ensure our health care system does not become overwhelmed. That’s also one reason why they’re pleading with the public to contact health care providers by phone or via televisit if they are concerned about whether they have COVID-19, rather than flooding medical facilities.
Residents can further do their part by following the guidance of public health officials and practicing social distancing, which means avoiding large gatherings and remaining at least 6 feet away from other people. That’s in addition to common-sense safety practices like washing hands regularly, avoiding contact with sick people, coughing and sneezing into a sleeve or tissue and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.
Businesses, meanwhile, must do their best to provide paid leave for sick employees — though that’s easier said than done for many employers in Summit County — and implement steps like allowing for telecommuting when possible.
Amid the tumult, however, it’s also important to keep the situation in perspective. All four cases of COVID-19 in Summit County, for instance, were the result of travel, and officials said late in the week that there was no known spread within the community. Hopefully, the measures taken thus far will limit the spread locally and throughout the state.
Undoubtedly, we’re in an uncharted area. But let’s remain calm, make responsible decisions and find our way through it together.
Information about the coronavirus is available from the Utah Department of Health at coronavirus.utah.gov, the Summit County Health Department at summitcountyhealth.org/coronavirus and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. People who may have symptoms of the coronavirus are advised to call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707.
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Our view: Against a once-unimaginable backdrop, and with little margin for error, county officials have made painful but prudent decisions in an attempt to spare us from the worst of the pandemic.