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Shelves at the Rising Sun IGA show the aftermath of the COVID-19 panic that has set in among some people. A handwritten sign saying “No more eggs. Sorry.” is displayed on a shelf that was once full. A similar sign was placed in front of shelving that now has a  limited selection of bread. The toilet paper aisle is wiped out as well. Submitted Photo

Rising Sun shuts out coronavirus

Now it is wait and see

After Indiana confirmed its first coronavirus fatality, Gov. Eric Holcomb recently announced precautionary measures that must be implemented throughout the state to prevent the spread of the infectious disease.

As of 2:30 p.m. Monday, March 16, Holcomb ordered all bars, nightclubs, and restaurants be closed for in-person dining. Facilities may remain in operation for carry-out or delivery options as of now. 

Casinos also were ordered to shut their doors, and Rising Star recently announced suspension of its ferry service.

Long before this latest announcement, other agencies and services were taking precautions.

Rising Sun Schools canceled its Spring Camp, which was supposed to take place during the spring intersession, leaving some parents desperate for child care.

The destinations they planned to visit decided it would be best not to have large crowds gather at their facilities.

The corporation also canceled the band’s New York City trek, April field trips, and all other non-essential functions.

The decisions were made after Superintendent Branden Roeder met with other superintendents and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick and her chief of staff who sought guidance from the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana State Department of Health. 

The IDOE is pushing for no state testing, but they have to get that approved through the federal government, said Roeder.

He said for parents not to worry about IREAD or ILEARN at this time. He also said there will be more flexibility when it comes to attendance.

He encouraged parents to still report absences to the school after students return because the corporation will continue to keep track of attendance, but will not send out calls, or letters, or contact probation for violations unless flexibility is abused. 

“Our main goal is to keep staff, students, and our community safe and healthy. I realize that we may have to make decisions that create hardships for families, and I apologize in advance,” said Roeder.

Meanwhile, President Trump has recommended limiting gatherings to 10 people or less. The Rising Sun United Methodist Church scheduled its annual fish fry for Friday, March 27, but decided to postpone the meal until further notice.

The Ohio County Democratic Party also has elected to forego its JJ Dinner that was to be held at the Senior Citizen’s Community Building Friday, April 3.

Some Main Street businesses, such as Amber’s Antiques and Hygge Hus and Essentially Us Mercantile and Costumed Photography, closed their doors and will take this time to do some spring cleaning and organizing.

Re-read it

The Ohio County Library announced Monday, March 16, it also will close indefinitely. This is by no means the extent of closures and the situation keeps changing, so folks should pay attention for the latest updates on the businesses in Rising Sun and what their hours and limited operations may be. 

Many community members have stocked up on essentials and the streets of Rising Sun have been eerily vacant and quiet. 

Milk, bread, bottled water, disinfectant, and toiletry shelves have been wiped clean at local stores, and folks have been venting on social media about the hysteria the coronavirus scare has brought. 

Jamie Lea Bailey commented about her recent trip to Walmart where she saw consumers buying extra refrigerators to store their overstock of food.

She said employees and customers were wearing gloves to touch merchandise.

People were scanning her cart to see if she had joined the panic or see if she had something they may need.

She also said there was sheer panic anytime someone would cough and she found herself having a moral dilemma. She has a family to feed and felt as if she needed to stock up because she didn’t know when certain items would be available again.

On the other hand, Bailey felt guilty as she may be taking from someone in greater need. She said she was also embarrassed because people were staring at her. “It was the most uncomfortable shopping trip of my life,” she said.

Bailey said what made her the saddest was that everyone seemed to be walking around in a fog.

“No smiles. No laughs. Just fear, stress, panic. I fear for us. I feel like I just walked through a movie on the sci-fi channel,” she said once she made it back to the comfort of her home.

Fear mongering

Ohio County Health Officer Dr. Chris Walcott recently addressed the public via video intending to provide a brief and balanced overview of COVID-19. He said there is much we do not know pertaining to the virus which has led to an abundance of fear mongering, especially in the media.

His focus was on what we do know about the virus. Walcott said that the virus is dangerous because it is new to the human population, many have been affected and many more will be within the upcoming months. 

He said prevention is the best treatment. Hand-washing, coughing into your elbow or shoulder, avoiding large crowds, avoiding touching your face, and limited contact with pets is a great start.

Face masks should be limited to those with symptoms and health care workers. Walcott said that if you are currently healthy, then please reserve these important, limited resources for others.

Fever, cough, and difficulty breathing are the most common symptoms of COVID-19 and may appear within two to fourteen days after exposure. Elderly folks, those with heart or lung disease, smokers, and those who are immunocompromised are at the highest risk of complication.

Walcott advised those with mild or moderate symptoms to utilize their local health care providers. Influenza is still being diagnosed in the Ohio River valley and this is also the time for seasonal allergies, so not all causes of cough are the coronavirus. 

“Be sure to call ahead or arrange quick placement to avoid sitting in a crowded waiting room at your local clinic. Only resort to a hospital if you are at high risk or have severe symptoms,” said Walcott. 

At this time, there are no specific medications or vaccines to treat the coronavirus. Testing for the virus is also limited.

“Although this is clearly a pandemic, we need not go into hysteria. Many have overreacted to the detriment of necessary medical supplies. It is most important to use common sense. You can talk to your neighbor. You can go to the grocery store and you can go outside,” Walcott said.

He also stated that this time can help us come together as a community and urged those with further questions to direct them to their local health department or health care clinic.