Staying Safe

BLUEFIELD — Amidst the COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, pandemic, area residents are taking safety precautions and staying calm.

With the virus so widespread, and easily transmittable, officials are closing organizations and canceling events. On March 13, W. Va. Governor Jim Justice closed all schools until further notice.

Heeding the safety precaution advice from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), many residents are upping their sanitation regiments but not altering their daily lives too drastically.

Christina Green, of Princeton, is treating the outbreak as any other outbreak that may occur, through proper sanitation and isolation when needed.

“It’s just like if there was a flu epidemic, you keep your children safe. I don’t bring my children out in public, they stay at home. It’s just normal common sense,” Green said.

As for precautions, Green states that her sanitation practices haven’t necessarily changed. As her job requires her to work with the public, she has always relied heavily on washing her hands, using hand sanitizer and even using gloves.

Though the virus is striking fear in the hearts of many Americans, Green believes that the virus is most likely only dangerous to a certain demographic. Those who are either elderly or have a compromised immune system should err on the side of caution and stay away from heavily populated areas.

“Older people, people that have diabetes, if you have a weak immune system, if you have a very high white blood cell count, those are the people that need to take all the precautions. If you wash your hands, bathe and take the right precautions you should be fine,” Green said.

Similar to Green’s outlook on the novel coronavirus, Caleb Poore, of Bluefield, believes that the concern is blown out of proportion.

“People that have a weak immune system need to stay away and stay inside as much as possible. It’s over-exaggerated,” Poore said.

With the main piece of advice being to keep hands regularly washed, Poore believes that this shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary. Keeping his hands washed, and using hand sanitizer in between, is Poore’s main suggestion to stay healthy.

“I know that God is on our side. I’m not really worried about this whole virus,” Poore said.

Susan Auliye, of McDowell County, is also not fearing the outbreak. Remaining calm, and keeping up her regular daily routine, she is with the seeming majority of residents who aren’t fearful of contamination.

Auliye said she’s “Living her life like I normally do. I’ve always washed my hands and sanitized so I’m just doing it like normal. I won’t live in fear or hoard supplies.”

As customers flocked to stores to buy mass amounts of merchandise, stores like Walmart were forced to limit the number of certain products that customers can purchase. Items such as toilet paper and packs of bottled water have been limited to two packs per customer in some stores.

Other residents are practicing the suggested method of virus prevention, called social distancing. Health organizations are suggesting that people maintain at least six feet of distance from other people to reduce the chance of contamination.

Local organizations, including Woodlawn, Restlawn and Resthaven, are practicing social distancing. Employees of these organizations are not taking part in shaking hands, hugging or other forms of touch. They’re also altering their business regiments if need be.

According to Jeff Mitchem, of Bluefield, those who are conducting business with these organizations, but are uncomfortable or unable to leave their home, related to the virus, can have a home consultation.

“We always have to be ready for our families and we need to make sure it is a comforting, but safe environment,” Mitchem said.

Also practicing social distancing, Donnitta Pollack, of Princeton, is limiting her exposure to the public.

Pollack says she is “Staying home and only making quick runs for needed items. I’m washing hands, which I always have done, as soon as I get home. Spraying Lysol on doorknobs I just used. Most important, keeping my hands off my face.”

After one resident experienced alarming symptoms after traveling out of state, he partook in self-isolation.

Jeff Channell, of Princeton, traveled out of state for business in early March. As quarantining was not being conducted at this time, and the illness had not been labeled as a pandemic, Channell and fellow travelers were unafraid of traveling into densely populated places.

Once he returned, his son fell ill. Due to his recent travel Channell isolated himself and his family until symptoms passed. During this time Channell was faced with the harsh reality of a limit on testing equipment.

Due to limited testing, Channell believes that W. Va. most definitely has positive cases of the virus.

“I have no doubts that this virus has spread to West Virginia, but there are several factors working against us in detecting cases. Including a lack of available testing, stringent guidelines on who is eligible for a test, fear of economic distress from avoiding work while sick and the potential for the infected to display little to no symptoms,” Channell said.

Due to limitations and specific regulations on testing, Channell was not tested for the virus but did experience symptoms which include coughing and respiratory infection. Despite being ill, Channell is slowly overcoming his illness and still practicing isolation.

Those who think they may have the coronavirus are asked to contact their local health department for testing and further instruction.

— Contact Emily D. Coppola at

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