Keep calm, carry on and wash your hands

Preparation — not panic — is key during the current COVID-19 pandemic

Preparation, not panic.

This is the most important thing to remember during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Another important thing to remember? Wash your hands.

Yes, really.

Telling people not to panic is not the same as saying the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus is not a serious situation. In order to curb the spread and, in effect, keep vulnerable populations healthy, it is critical everyone follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice being repeated across all channels.

The CDC recommends the following: Avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (yep — the sing “Happy Birthday” twice tactic does the trick); use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Stay home if you find yourself feeling ill with a fever, cough or shortness of breath. Call your doctor for advice.

It’s easy to feed into the coronavirus hysteria, but it’s important to stay calm. Preparation is key. Keep your home stocked with essentials (you don’t need 40 rolls of toilet paper, but a few extra rolls is not a bad idea), practice good hygiene and set a routine of disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Before you criticize community leaders, know this: Your municipality and school district are doing the best they can with the information they have. They are listening to local health departments. They are considering CDC advice.

In Voorhees, the township heeded public concern with what were expected to be highly attended planning and zoning board meetings last week, canceling both. Cherry Hill followed Camden County’s example and canceled all upcoming senior events.

School districts are putting plans in place in the event of a quarantine. Eastern Regional High School dismissed students early two days last week so staff could develop a plan. The Haddonfield School District hosted a professional development day to do the same. Schools within the Lenape Regional High School District canceled or postponed a number of events.

These are just a few examples of how local municipalities and school districts are addressing coronavirus concerns. Make sure you address them, too, by being an informed community member following the best practices to keep you and your family healthy.