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Blubaugh: ‘We all need to not be selfish’: Get your COVID-19 answers from an expert, not Facebook | COMMENTARY

An exasperated friend and I were talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and strategies being employed to fight it, when she asked, “How are we supposed to know what to believe?”

Well, there are the politicians, of course, who have never seen an issue they can’t turn into a partisan fight.

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And there’s Facebook, where some commenting on a story about schools reopening crowed about how well Sweden’s strategy of staying open worked while others decried it as a total disaster.

I started to put in a plug for the news media, but didn’t have the energy to get drawn into a debate about the relative merits of Fox or MSNBC, or listen to tired takes on “fake news.”

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But I think I came up with a reasonable answer: Just listen to the experts.

Forget the spin. Forget the politics. Forget the know-it-all keyboard warriors. Seek out those who actually understand this stuff. Google “Fauci” or “Birx” — and if you think they’re too much a part of the machine, buy local.

“My face covering protects you, and your face covering protects me,” said Ed Singer, Carroll County Health Officer. “Carroll County is seeing significant community spread of COVID-19. Cloth face coverings are an important way to help slow the spread in our community – another easy way to save lives.”
“My face covering protects you, and your face covering protects me,” said Ed Singer, Carroll County Health Officer. “Carroll County is seeing significant community spread of COVID-19. Cloth face coverings are an important way to help slow the spread in our community – another easy way to save lives.” (Ed Singer)

Ed Singer, Carroll County’s top health official, has been tasked with answering a lot of questions, at press conferences, via text and email or in front of county leadership at numerous meetings. His unvarnished takes on all things coronavirus have been most informative, particularly at Thursday’s Board of Commissioners meeting, when he displayed plenty of data, patiently answered questions and, basically, kept it real.

No, not everything about this pandemic is black and white. It will actually take some common sense if we’re going to navigate through it. Here’s a lightly paraphrased look at what he said.

· On travel restrictions: It’s more about the behavior than where people are going. It’s all about avoiding large gatherings, taking the proper precautions and doing the right things.

· On workplaces excluding employees awaiting test results: A lot of people now are getting tested because they are curious or because they want to travel to another state ... look at what the testing is for.

· On overreaction: Some of this can paralyze us as a community if we go over the edge. We want to be safe but we also need to consider what makes sense and what is practical.

· On current trends: The 18-29 age group has shot up significantly. ... Younger people are really frustrated with being stuck inside, are wanting to go out and do things and are probably taking the more risky behavioral route. The bars and crowded places are what really concerns me.

· On those who refuse to take precautions: It’s kind of a civic duty for people to try to protect each other. ... Maybe you won’t be at high risk and not get so sick, but when you give it to your grandmother and give it to somebody else that’s at high risk, that’s when we have the problem. We all need to not be selfish.

· On pandemic-related behavioral health issues: People have to be stressed, but I almost have to wonder in my mind if families aren’t spending more time together ... and maybe that’s helping.

· On preexisting conditions: About half of all the adults in the U.S. have chronic conditions that puts them at a higher risk for negative COVID-19 outcomes.

· On the balancing act needed due to agendas: There are many people out there far to one side that think we should be able to do whatever we want and far to the other side that think we should be completely locked up. Unfortunately, there’s not too many people in the middle.

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Unfortunately, indeed.

When Singer was finished, Commissioner Eric Bouchat suggested he deserves to be sent on a cruise for all his work during this crisis.

The sentiment was nice, although I seem to recall a cruise ship isn’t the best place to be during a pandemic. Of course, Singer doesn’t need me to tell him that. He’s the expert.

Bob Blubaugh is the editor of the Carroll County Times. His column appears Sundays. Email him at bob.blubaugh@carrollcountytimes.com.

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