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Jon K. Rust

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications.

Opinion

Coronavirus comes to St. Louis; are we prepared?

Associated Press

I was in St. Louis on Monday, and people were unnerved by the arrival of the coronavirus. Not so much that a student studying abroad in Italy came home to her family, fell sick and was diagnosed with the infectious disease, but that the student's father and a younger sister attended a father-daughter dance while they suspected the disease might be in their household. Confusion now abounds whether the father was told to stay in self-quarantine -- county health authorities say he was, the family's attorney disagrees. Regardless, many who attended the dance or otherwise came in contact with the father and daughter are on edge. Several St. Louis schools have been closed, and more students are now under self-quarantine as a precaution.

The episode presents a lesson to us all.

Combating the spread of this disease requires all of us working together. If we suspect we might be exposed to infection, why should we not go out in public? Because it will put others at risk, and the wider this virus spreads, the more assuredly it will arrive at someone vulnerable. In correction to those who suggest it, COVID-19 is not the flu. For young people, compared to the flu, COVID-19 doesn't appear to be very dangerous. It's the contagion and mortality rate with the elderly -- and those with chronic conditions -- that create cause for alarm.

A person certainly has a responsibility to think and take care of himself. But washing hands regularly and staying home when sick are also to protect others. The reason we should not hoard anti-bacterial wash, food or masks is so they are available when needed -- for others and, reciprocally, for us. Selfish -- or uninformed -- actions will cause other people harm. And in a community, that will eventually mean harm to us, whether through our own health, the health of family and acquaintances, or the health of the economy.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian.

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