I don’t suppose there’s much mystery surrounding this month’s topic. But before I get started, let’s get this out of the way. I don’t have the answer to the question that so many of us are concerned about. How long will this last? I am also 64 years old and have never seen anything like this! In addition to being your mayor, I am a community member, husband, father, son, business owner and healthcare professional. Like all of you, I want to know when we are going to get back to normal!

I know we are literally bombarded with information on COVID-19 every minute of the day. What would I like you to take from today’s article? Let our public health officials guide us through this crisis! Tune out the politics, social media frenzy, television analysts and others that dilute the facts.

While we are told that the original cases of COVID-19 disease were confirmed on Dec. 31, 2019, in Wuhan, China, many suggest it was actually much earlier. Initially, I was going to use the timeline of the outbreak in China to parallel what we might expect here. A recent investigation, however, indicates that the Chinese manipulated the data to underplay the crisis.

Ignoring science and manipulating the data, as the Chinese are purported to have done, may have hastened and deepened the pandemic. Their actions were reckless and deadly.

Making COVID-19 a political issue is risky and disingenuous. We must rely on the science of epidemiology (the study of the emergence, distribution and control of disease) and emerging public health information to control the spread of the virus.  Social restrictions, travel restrictions and other severe measures have their basis in the science of infection control. There is no other answer.

The critical public health information can be easily followed at the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center – coronavirus.jhu.edu. It gives a true barometer of the disease data and timelines.

What does the data mean? We know, with certainty, is that what we do, or don’t do, will impact the timeline of the outbreak.

South Korea took about a month and a half to slow down, although they haven’t leveled off. The first case in Italy was two months ago. They may be starting to slow down. The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. from unknown exposure was a little over a month ago.

I believe we all have an opportunity to impact the numbers locally. This is because we have been subject to the appropriate restrictive measures in the very early stages but this is only true if we continue to comply with those measures!

We have fantastic public health officials at all levels of government who are using the facts as they emerge. Listen to Dr. Bill Remington, Bob Weaver and Theresa Reed at the Kosciusko County Health Department. Listen to Dr. Kris Box from the Indiana State Department of Health. Listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institute of Health.

We also have a community that very much gets it! Watch the Red Cross collect blood with overflow participation at the Pavilion. Watch the hundreds of folks sewing masks and isolation gowns for the nursing homes and health care facilities.  Watch our workforce and businesses adjust to something we have never seen in our lifetime.

I’m hearing and seeing a community that gets it!