March 18, 2020

As I see it

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The question that many people asked as to how the outbreak of the coronavirus would impact not only those of us living in North Dakota, but across the United States and the world is now being answered on a daily basis. It is causing the greatest upheaval in the world’s economy that we have seen in decades, if not in history.
Daily life in the United States, as we once knew it, is grinding to a halt as authorities scramble to slow the spread of the virus. In the U.S., major sporting events, church services and any event that attracts more than 50 people is being canceled. And that means that college campuses are shutting down, high schools are closing, retailers and restaurants are restricting the number of people that they permit into their businesses. All of these efforts are meant to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
While the United States has so far not been impacted as badly as are many other foreign countries, unless people follow the safety protocols established by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the chance of more Americans dying from this disease will escalate significantly.
In the United States, as of March 16, more than 3,700 people have tested positive for the new COVID-19 disease and at least 71 have died. Globally, the death toll was just over 6,500 with the weekend seeing an alarming spike in fatalities in Europe.
Fortunately, North Dakota at the present time seems to be one of the states with the fewest cases of the coronavirus with just one person being tested positive. And that is good news for state residents.
But, that doesn’t mean that every resident of the state, especially the elderly who may have other health issues, should let their guard down and not assume that the coronavirus isn’t around. Which is why North Dakota’s governor on Sunday issued an executive order closing all of the state’s public and private K-12 schools, why all of the state’s college campuses have terminated their classes, and healthcare systems are imposing restrictions on visitors coming to their hospitals, clinics and nursing home facilities until the virus is contained.
What we can do to keep ourselves safer when it comes to being exposed to the coronavirus is pretty simple - avoid large crowds; avoid traveling, especially through large airports, use hand sanitizers and wash your hands frequently; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily; and finally avoid close contact with people who are sick.
While following these simple and logical safe health practices, we can all do our part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, rushing out to buy all of the toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers that you can find isn’t the right thing to do.
The coronavirus could become a worldwide healthcare issue for a very long time. How long is the question that no one seems to be able to answer definitively.
So until the government gives the all clear notification, it is safe to assume that our daily lives are going to continue to be disrupted.