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Awareness is the biggest key to virus

It is likely our awareness of how widespread COVID-19 is in the United States represents only the tip of the iceberg. Until widespread testing kicks in, many among us made by carrying the virus unknowingly, both to themselves and the rest of us.

Still, paying attention to what information we do have is important. Self-defense experts advise the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves against any threat is to practice situational awareness. That is, know what hazards are present and how serious they are.

As of Sunday evening, 3,244 Americans had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Sixty-two of them had died. Of the deaths, 40 had been in Washington State, most at a hard-hit nursing home.

Nearly two-thirds of the COVID-19 cases New York (729), Washington (642), California (374), Massachusetts (138) and Florida (115). Most other states were reporting COVID-19 in single or double digits. One, West Virginia, had no confirmed patients.

For now, then, the greatest danger appeared to be in a handful of states.

Again, however, appearances can be deceiving. Large-scale testing may alter the picture.

But — and this is an enormously important “but” — large numbers of COVID-19 infections probably occurred in the hardest-hit states before awareness of the coronavirus had spread and before tens of millions of Americans began taking steps to minimize exposure to those infected by it.

So the message on situational awareness is mixed. At first glance, it appears Americans in many states may have little about which to worry from COVID-19. That could change.

For now, then, both public and individual measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 are critical. Local, state and federal government restrictions will help. Keeping ourselves and our families safe, however, is up to us.

So, stay aware. We at this newspaper will keep you informed of developments, with emphasis on the local area. For additional information, check the state and federal websites focusing on COVID-19. Stay informed — and stay well. This is a situation in which knowledge really is power.

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