Your neighbors are not overreacting. Your neighbors are not under-reacting.
They are merely reacting – reacting to a largely unknown and therefore very frightening pandemic: the coronavirus outbreak.
This is not the time to mock or ridicule or flaunt – things that, unfortunately, social media seems invented for in times of crisis such as this.
This is a time to come together, a time for community compassion and reasoned caution.
As of press time, there was just one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Loudoun County. We believe that number will grow; we hope we're wrong.
Regardless of whether more local cases are confirmed, we urge citizens to halt the dangerous, uninformed, knee-jerk commentary running rampant across the Internet.
Legitimate national news outlets are not feeding you lies. This virus is not a hoax. It's not influenza. We know virtually everything there is to know about the flu. The same can't be said for COVID-19 – not even close.
Coronavirus is, as we've seen, extremely deadly, with more than 4,700 deaths across the globe and 38 in the United States.
This outbreak needs to be taken seriously, and preparations need to be guided by facts and medical doctors.
The line between stern concern and hysteria can be fine, but one thing should be clear by now: This virus is nothing to dismiss or make light of.
While not communicated in the smoothest of fashions – mere hours before the school day was to begin and hours after implying classes wouldn't be disrupted this week – Loudoun County Public Schools made the right call Thursday morning in calling off classes for Thursday, Friday and all of next week. With so many parents crippled by anxiety over their child's health – and understandably so – the school system needed to take measures to reduce the risk.
Similarly, while last week Loudoun County government appeared to be playing catch-up on the crisis, this week they've been expeditious in updating the public and directing concerned residents on what to do. (On that note, if you're a Loudoun resident with questions or fears about coronavirus, contact the local health department by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 703-771-5829.)
As both President Donald Trump (R) and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said this week – and as we wholeheartedly believe – we will get through this. Our community will endure. America will recover, and normalcy will return to our lives.
We will get through this together.