I will admit I’ve never thought of myself as humorous nor has anyone ever said that about me. I was once called “acerbic” by a male colleague.  But it turns out that is newspaper slang for a woman who won’t be quiet and trust the men folk to make all the decisions.

 That doesn’t mean I lack a sense of humor, it’s just that I tend to be more serious about life in general.  Long story short, the joke needs to be very funny for me to join in the laughter.

 I do love to hear people laugh and enjoy themselves though.  Unless the jokes are making fun of others.

 Two of my people pet peeves are those who get a laugh at the expense of others and the ones who embrace any crazy idea over real facts provided by experts.

The World Health Organization has declared the COVID-19 coronavirus a public emergency and President Trump on Friday declared it a national emergency.

The virus has spread fear and panic around the world and the United States is now facing widespread anxiety.

Events are being cancelled, schools are being closed and stores are limiting purchases of certain items.

One group apparently shares the opinion the government has overreacted with travel bans and emergency restrictions.  They continue to book cruises claiming if they are to die, they want to be happy and are still booking cheap airline flights to European countries.

Social media sites are overloaded with conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 coronavirus.  People are actually buying the claim the virus is a hoax and not a serious health threat. 

They continue to post their theories while making fun of how people are reacting to the threat of being infected by the virus.  They are oblivious to the real fear these folks are dealing with.

We watched as the death toll climbed in China and Europe.  Until recently it was difficult to perceive it as a real threat to Americans.

But it is here, and reality has set in.

For me, it was the recommendation from the CDC that older Americans do not travel by plane until further notice.  My husband and I had planned a trip to Orlando for spring break with our 11-year old.  When I saw the age -range listed by the CDC, it was a wakeup call.  The age was anyone over 60 and anyone over 70 with underlying health issues.  Since we each fall into one of those categories, we knew we had to change our plans.

At the time this column was written, there were 3110 confirmed cases in the United States with 62 deaths reported and 22 confirmed cases in Alabama.   Those numbers will have changed by the time it is published.

The United States House of Representatives passed an emergency response bill for the coronavirus on Saturday.  The senate is expected to take up the bill this week.

The bill provides free testing for anyone whose doctor says a test is needed.  Patients will not be responsible for any deductibles or co-payments.

For older Americans, the bill provides funding for programs which provide meals to senior centers and homes of older adults who live alone.

The most affected individuals by the virus appear to be the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions. The mortality rates worldwide for the virus is four percent for ages 60-69, roughly ten percent for 70 and over and almost eighteen percent for people over 80. 

The CDC also put out new guidelines for nursing homes and long-term care facilities.  All nursing home visits are to be prohibited, except in end-of-life situations.  They have implemented active screening of residents for fever and respiratory symptoms.

Moving into a nursing home can be devasting to anyone.  But knowing they are the most vulnerable to the virus is heart-wrenching.

The CDC wants younger people to understand they can be carriers for the virus and spread it without showing any symptoms or feeling ill.  They should take that warning seriously.

There are almost 50 million Americans over the age of 65.  They are important contributors to our economy and our society.  They are teachers, church leaders, community leaders, friends and grandparents.  Currently all contenders for the presidency are over the age of 70.

We should all work together to control the spread of the virus.  Every person can do their part to reduce the spread by following guidelines of using good hygiene, self-isolating when they are sick and practicing social distancing.

Jokes are often an attempt to take something scary and make it harmless.  That won’t work with COVID-19.

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