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Listen to the experts

Coronavirus is a real global threat, and it’s arrived in the United States. It will almost certainly spread around the world and throughout the nation. But like the seasonal flu that infects people every year, this new disease will not wipe out the population.

That’s the general consensus you will get if you stick with public health and infectious disease experts as your primary sources for information on this situation. The federal Centers for Disease Control and the state and county health departments are the agencies best suited to talk to the public about this matter.

But if you turn to politicians, especially at the nation level, you’ll get a cloudy confusion of dangerously inaccurate and/or exaggerated statements. For example, the president of the United States told a rally of his supporters on Feb. 28 that coronavirus was the latest hoax meant to damage him politically.

We’re well past the point in Donald Trump’s presidency where we can expect much in the way of response by elected officials to that terribly ill-advised statement that doesn’t just reflect the same old political divisions.

That’s why we urge our readers to make sure that they are being both diligent in their pursuit of information on coronavirus and rational in their approaches to dealing with it. You can’t ignore it, but you shouldn’t wrap yourself in a bubble or shout about the end of days in the streets.

At this point, it really comes down to the basic common sense health that professionals have long advised us to use. Practice good hygiene; hand-washing is vital, cough into your elbow, etc. If you’re sick, see your doctor and follow their advice. Don’t go to work or school if you’re ill.

It’s sad that we’re at a point in our nation’s history when political divisions are clouding the ability for the public to get clear, accurate information and advice from our elected officials. But the reality is that’s true.

It’s up to the public to be smart and deal with it by turning to the experts.

* Guest editorial from The Citizen in Auburn, N.Y.