A popular cut-and-paste Facebook post has made the rounds among those who continue denying the seriousness of the covid crisis. In essence, it asks whether the poster’s Facebook friends personally know any covid patients. If there isn’t an outpouring of positive responses, the implication is that the worldwide pandemic is an exaggerated conspiracy.

Although case counts are climbing, it remains true that test-verified covid infections in Pacific and Clatsop counties remain comparatively low. In the seven days ending this Monday morning, Pacific County logged the equivalent of 45 new cases per 100,000, compared to a statewide rate of 75. Clatsop County had the equivalent of 30 new cases per 100,000, compared to 55 statewide. Both are in the middle third in our states when compared to other counties.

However, scientific statistics and public health officials attest to the fact there is widespread and growing local transmission of the virus. The mayor of Long Beach, peninsula volunteer Joe Paliani, retired Astoria Library Director Bruce Berney, well-known Astorian Peter Roscoe — among others — have all caught covid. Berney succumbed to it. This disease is not made up or played up.

Contrary to some social media posts, face masks are a safe and effective way of stopping most viral transmission. We all should be wearing them in public. For purposes of protecting vulnerable loved ones, we each should assume we have the virus and behave accordingly. Maintain a minimum of six feet of physical separation from anyone we don’t live with. Sanitize hands often and avoid touching our faces. Don’t fall for claims about “miracle cures”; there are none.

If anything, evidence for these measures has done nothing but strengthen as the pandemic wears on. To get to the other side of this outbreak — alive and well, with loved ones alive, and with our economy salvageable — requires following these often-repeated precautions. There is an understandable human need for companionship, but this is not the time to be going to social clubs or hanging out in other settings where we may be exposed to air contaminated with viral particles.

In late July, Paliani recounted his increasing onset of serious symptoms: “my body ached all over; my neck muscles were taut and tired. My entire body muscular system seemed to be flooded with something like flu symptoms, accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of weakness in every muscle of my body. … I was exhausted every minute of every hour of every day, just being in a wakened state. I have a chronic cough, and my rib cage muscles hurt. My lungs feel like they’re made of lead.”

Paliani wore a mask and rubber gloves when socializing. “But 90 percent of the others around me wore no masks. Of course, with all the knowledge I now have about how not to contract the virus, in retrospect, I simply would not have risked being around other people the past two weeks.”

We must all learn this lesson. This is an easy virus to catch. It can kill you, or you can pass it on to somebody else who it may sicken or kill. Stay home as much as you can. When out and about, wear a mask over your mouth and nose.

If you don’t yet know someone with covid, you soon will. Make sure it isn’t you.

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