People around the world are justifiably concerned about becoming infected by COVID-19.

And while no known cases have yet been declared in Northern New York, residents here also feel this anxiety. We all wonder if it’s just a matter of time until someone with the novel coronavirus is identified in the north country.

All SUNY students will resume their classes online rather than returning to their campuses following spring break. This includes North County Community College as well as SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam.

In addition, St. Lawrence University in Canton will conduct online classes once school begins again. Clarkson University in Potsdam will continue with on-campus classes, but officials said this is subject to change.

Two county Offices for the Aging have temporarily closed all congregate dining centers. The sites in Lewis County are in Copenhagen, Croghan, Harrisville, Lowville, Lyons Falls and Osceola. The St. Lawrence County sites are in Brasher Falls, Canton, DeKalb Junction, Gouverneur, Morristown, Ogdensburg, Potsdam and Star Lake.

Senior citizens who receive home-delivered meals, however, will continue to have them delivered to their residences. Congregate clients will be contacted by staff members for the Office for the Aging to discuss alternative arrangements.

Various health care facilities have begun restricting visitations to patients. Some public events have been canceled while others have prohibited spectators.

All this is a lot to take in, and it’s enough to cause people to panic. We need to remain sensible about this situation and follow the best advice that health experts have to offer.

The coronavirus is primarily an upper respiratory illness with the main symptoms being fever, coughing and shortness of breath. While there is no vaccine for it yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends some methods for reducing the likelihood of infection:

n Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

n Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

n Stay home when you are sick.

n Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

n Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

n Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

n Don’t wear a facemask unless you experience symptoms of the coronavirus.

Getting through this will require flexibility and cooperation. Many people are being affected by measures designed to thwart the spread of this disease, so we should willing to help them out.

If you have a loved one, friend or neighbor who is a senior citizen, see if they need any assistance. Some of them won’t be able to travel to closed government sites for their meals, so make sure they have access to food.

Many students won’t be able to return to their campuses once spring break is over. Parents will need to put up with their children being at home for the foreseeable future. If families can’t accommodate students, friends or neighbors should see if they can host them in their homes.

Workloads at our places of employment may become heavier if some people are out of the office. Be patient and agree to pitch in to ease the burden of co-workers. This will build up good will and keep companies moving forward.

There are numerous ways to help out other people during this time of stress. You’ll find opportunities to lend a hand by keeping an open mind and heart.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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