Earlier this month, Moore County’s official government website was running a large scrolling message with the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak. It was later replaced with a prominently displayed news release on the website.
Last Tuesday, Health Department Nursing Director Melissa Fraley went before county commissioners to brief them on the virus and measures being undertaken. The last couple of minutes of that presentation she talked about the real health crisis we all face: the flu.
There are no cases of the deadly coronavirus in North Carolina, and just a handful in the United States. Indeed, of the 12 cases reported in this country as of Monday, nine of the victims
had recently visited the virus’ epicenter: Wuhan, China. The nearest case to us is in Massachusetts.
In the meantime, more than 60 people in North Carolina have died from the flu or complications this season, and thousands of others have suffered a few days of ill health. We are at the peak of flu season — hospital census numbers are off the charts — but the state is currently trending below peak numbers from 2017-18 and about even with last year.
We appreciate the work of the county’s Health Department and its vigilance to safeguard the public’s well-being. The coronavirus constitutes a real health crisis in China — and is at the forefront for public health officials globally — even if it remains, for most of us, an exotic and distant event of minimal significance.
A healthy dose of perspective does us all good. Coronavirus is serious; Fraley told commissioners that it was the source last week of no less than four conference calls among health officials. Federal health officials are ordering local health departments to gear up and report things like the amount and types of protective equipment on hand.
In the meantime, strep throat and the flu have been leveling large swaths of students. Several schools over the past month reported larger than normal absenteeism due to flu and strep throat. Maintenance workers have even been called in to conduct special sanitizing sweeps.
Speaking of the coronavirus, Fraley told commissioners what we all know to be true: “We are very mobile in this day and time, and that’s not helpful when we’re trying to contain illness.”
We are most at risk of — and should focus on — the common. Lucky for us, basic prevention measures outlined by Fraley — hand-washing, covering coughs and staying home while sick — will guard the spread of both the flu and the more exotic coronavirus.