Use caution and common sense, avoid panic

Published on: March 19, 2020

Use caution and common sense, avoid panic when it comes to Coronavirus

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding the pandemic we now know as COVID-19. Whatever our beliefs in its virulence or magnitude, there are commonsense measures we all can take to slow its spread.

While the headlines and news reports about coronavirus can be downright scary, it’s important for us all to remain calm, use our heads and check the sources of information we’re given.

Since my mom, spouse and I are in the age group that’s particularly vulnerable, I’m obviously concerned. But we’re following the recommended precautions of frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water, avoidance of touching our faces and staying out of crowds. We’re also working on keeping our immune systems strong.

What I’ve found particularly disconcerting is the herd mentality that many of those around us have developed in the face of something unknown. Panicking people are hoarding and, in some cases, stealing commodities like hand soap, disinfectant, toilet paper, face masks and water to have much more on hand than they could possibly need. It’s unfair to others and unnecessary.

It also hurts the businesses where these goods are purchased, returned unused and then, by law, have to be refunded or discarded (like bottled water) when the panic is over. The frenzy has caused many stores to reduce hours so employees can restock shelves and sanitize their locations.

We’re all in this together, folks, and we need to look out for each other. This means social distancing for now, especially when it comes to large assemblies of people; covering our coughs and sneezes; staying home when we exhibit any flu-like symptoms (except to seek medical help); and disinfecting all commonly used surfaces on a daily basis.

Until this thing passes, we need to think twice about visiting elderly friends, neighbors and family members in hospitals and skilled nursing centers. This may sound cruel, but anyone with a compromised immune system is especially at risk, and the virus unknowingly can be passed.

That’s why healthcare facilities like Sun Terrace and even retirement communities like Sun Towers are screening every person who enters their doors. Visitation has been suspended, unless it’s by a healthcare provider.

Employees, vendors and medical personnel alike are being asked a series of questions, and their temperatures are taken at entrances to either building. Anyone responding yes to a screening question or having a fever or other flu-like symptom is turned away.

Other area healthcare companies and senior residences in the area are taking similar precautions. Until the current situation changes, Freedom Plaza, for example, has cancelled all events open to the public or ones that involve large numbers of people. South Bay Hospital began screening last week and has limited access points to its building. It’s working hand-in-hand with the Hillsborough County Health Department to do any testing of inpatients for COVID-19, when it becomes necessary. St. Joseph Hospital South has also implemented visitor screening and restricted visitation by anyone under age 18.

And many organizations with large numbers of residents, like the Community Association of Sun City Center and Kings Point, have closed their public facilities and/or cancelled events in the interest of protecting residents and preventing the establishment of COVID-19 in the community.

Nonprofit groups like the Firehouse Cultural Center have cancelled fundraisers like the Draw In, and even some churches have temporarily suspended Sunday services and/or Sunday school.

Closings also include the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office substation at the Sun City Center Atrium building. Deputy Jeff Merry will still be out and about, but all calls for assistance should now go to the HCSO District 4 office at 813-247-0455.

Let’s face it, folks. We’re all being inconvenienced in a number of ways. But given how much we need to stop the spread of Coronavirus and knowing that lives are at stake, the precautions we take and restrictions we endure are well warranted. It’s better to err on the side of caution than to let this pandemic keep growing. And like I said, we’re in this thing together.

It’s so important, people, to stay hopeful in the knowledge that “this too shall pass.” If we keep the faith, follow precautions and work in concert with each other, instead of adopting an it’s-all-about-me response, we may just get through this without losing our minds.

And one more thing. Those of you who know me are aware I’m a hugger. But I’ve decided to temporarily suspend this form of greeting to protect myself and any potential huggees. Of course, I hope no one’s offended, but I can’t be concerned about that.

Anyone who says they’re going to hug people (or fist bump, elbow bump or shake hands) anyway, are putting themselves and other people at risk by potentially furthering the transmission of the virus.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a warm smile. I urge you all to do the same.

Stay safe out there.

Lois Kindle is a freelance writer and columnist for The Observer News. Contact her at