I can hear my mother now, “Greg, go wash your hands before you eat. And your fingernails … get that dirt from under your nails.” Of course, I couldn’t understand why; I was just going back outside to play, and they would  get dirty again.  What’s a boy to do?

Just this past weekend, a local physician, friend of mine, refused to do what I thought was the safe, fist-bump thing, instead raising his elbow for a greeting we … winged one another. Sounds a bit stranger, I realize.  I didn’t take it personally, though, under the circumstances of the “coronavirus,” it was his way of avoiding any potential transmission and a lesson of how to avoid contact.  A good lesson.  

It makes me wonder. Can your hands ever get clean enough? So, while I was out in public this past weekend, I focused on how many things I was inclined to touch. Doors, handles, tables, chairs are a few. Not to mention the way we interact with people; fearing someone may be offended if I avoid shaking hands.

Don’t misunderstand me, like many of you, I am concerned over the new coronavirus strain. Without a vaccine available at this point, it should sober us. Of course, we experience the regular flu season every year, which results in the death of thousands, mostly those who have compromised immune systems. We expect it, but take the news for granted.

Nonetheless,  I am here shaking my head wondering about the times. Only a few weeks ago, coronavirus meant nothing to us.  Now, of course, none of us want it, nor do we want to be carriers to those around us.  

While this shouldn’t be a political issue, some want to point fingers at the Trump Administration. So, what’s new? President Trump and the CDC established a COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Incident Management System on January 7, 2020. On Jan. 21, CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to better provide ongoing support to the COVID-19 response. On February 2, the U.S. government suspended entry of foreign nationals who have been in China within the past 14 days. Those that were in Hubei province and mainland China are allowed to enter the US, but must monitored and quarantined for up to 14 days.

Being proactive is important and avoiding carriers is prudent if possible. Recognizing potential outbreaks of communicable diseases is a difficult task at best, so the efforts made early by the Trump administration to limit travel from China and other countries was good.  The president made it clear: “We moved VERY early to close borders to certain areas, which was a Godsend,” he tweeted. “V.P. is doing a great job. The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!”

Already it appears that many of those in China are on the mend. Those who have compromised immunity, however, like those who contract our common strains of flu, often don’t make it.    

Honestly, the fact that COVID-19 is on the minds of everyone these days is evidence of the power of our news reporting and social media, perhaps a blessing and a curse at the same time. Yes, we need to be cautious, but no, we shouldn’t panic.

Since, I am not an epidemiologist, here is my disclaimer. Today’s commentary is primarily intended to encourage readers to recognize the potential effect of the virus. The goal now is mitigation.  

The administration is doing everything possible to ramp up vaccination development, test kit reliability and protocols of how to implement testing. As a matter of fact, test kits are now on their way to labs that are approved by the CDC, including U.S. state and local public health laboratories. A million test kits will be out this week and private partnerships with commercial test kit companies have been formed to make more available immediately.

While things may become more challenging as days come, we have faced serious viruses before. In the meantime, like your mother said, wash your hands and don’t touch your face. I’ll add, do the wing-thing, and don’t forget to pray for one another.  

Greg DeLancey is the 1st District chairman for the Republican Party of Kentucky. He may be reached at republican.chair@gmail.com.

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