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Use common sense with coronavirus

So, how worried should I be about COVID-19? What do I need to do to keep myself and my loved ones safe?

There is reason for concern about COVID-19, the coronavirus that has spread to 50 countries after breaking out in China. As of Thursday morning, the disease had killed about 2,800 people. An estimated 82,000 people have come down with it.

Nearly all the victims are in China. Cases in other nations are reported in single and double digits, for the most part. Just 60 cases have occurred in the United States — none in New York. Patients here are being quarantined.

COVID-19 is from a type of disease caused by a certain virus. It is related to the common cold and to influenza. But the new malady is more deadly than the flu. Worldwide, slightly less than 1% of those who contract it die. In China, the percentage is between 2 and 4.

The federal government and private companies are working feverishly to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. Just as important, efforts are underway to produce new medicines to treat the disease’s symptoms.

For now, the key advice is simple: Don’t panic. Don’t call in sick for work if you’re not ill, and don’t pull your children out of school.

Follow common-sense precautions against any viral disease. Don’t be one of the villains who cough into a hand, then use it to shake hands. If you cough or sneeze, do so into the crook of your elbow. COVID-19, like colds and the flu, is spread in the form of tiny droplets expelled into the air by coughs and sneezes from those suffering from the disease.

Wash your hands frequently. Be especially cautious in preparing, serving or consuming food or drinks. If you come down with a cold or the flu and your symptoms seem extreme, see a health care provider.

COVID-19 already is a very serious outbreak. It will get worse. But reacting irrationally to it could create problems, too.

Best advice: Use your head, cross your fingers and, perhaps, say a prayer.

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