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Editorial: Use caution, but keep calm

On Tuesday and Wednesday, officials at Ohio University and Marshall University announced classes would suspended and teaching would take place online and through non-“face-to-face” methods.

While neither school has any suspected cases of the virus, they made the move out of caution in hopes of limiting any possible spread.

This was the right move, especially when the number of students on all campuses is considered and the amount of travel by students and faculty that can occur with the spring breaks of this month.

We commend both schools for putting a plan in place to address this and for putting the best interests of students first.

While some in media have mocked concerns regarding coronavirus, such as Rush Limbaugh, who falsely told his audience that it was merely “the common cold,” the fact that the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on Wednesday shows that this is a serious matter.

However, we would also like to advise those sharing information to do so responsibly.

For instance, yesterday, one of the television stations in our region reported that eight cases of the coronavirus were “in the Tri-State.”

Upon reading, these cases were in the Cleveland and Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky areas, with none in West Virginia.

While technically true that they are in the three states comprising the Ohio-West Virginia-Kentucky region, when one thinks of “the Tri-State,” it is assumed it is our local area, where the states border and not locations hours away, well out of the station’s viewing area.

There have been no cases reported here in our region and such an alarmist-sounding headline can induce panic when it gets passed around social media, not exactly known for keeping things in perspective.

So, as this situation develops, we urge everyone to use caution, but, at that same time, read the fine print in news items and stick to reputable outlets.

There is no need to turn this situation into a full-blown freakout through misinformation.