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More dispruptions likely amid COVID-19 outbreak

Oklahoma City Thunder fans leave after Wednesday's game with the Utah Jazz was postponed. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma City Thunder fans leave after Wednesday's game with the Utah Jazz was postponed. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

The continuing spread of the coronavirus is making one thing crystal clear: Life as we know it is going to be different for a while, perhaps a long while.

On Wednesday alone, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, which the agency defines as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.”

The coronavirus, which began in Wuhan, China, has been found in at least 114 countries. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, is roughly 130,000. More than 4,700 have died – at least 38 in the United States, where the number of confirmed cases stood at roughly 1,350 Thursday.

The director-general of WHO said the organization expects the number of cases, deaths and countries impacted to grow in the coming weeks. He said WHO was “deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.”

Considerable action is being taken in the United States. President Trump, noting the spread of coronavirus in places such as Italy, is banning foreign travelers from Europe for the next 30 days. The U.S. Capitol is closed to the public. Universities are having their students stay home after spring break and do their classwork online.

The NCAA, after considering playing its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments without fans in the arenas, ultimately called off March Madness. It also said its remaining winter and spring championships would be canceled.

And, the NBA and National Hockey League suspended their seasons, the former after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the coronavirus. The Thunder’s game with the Jazz was called off shortly before tipoff Wednesday night.

Suspension of the season will impact Thunder employees, but also the many bars, restaurants and businesses that see a spike in revenue when the team is playing.

Other disruptions should be expected. Author and TV producer Llewellyn King suggested this “will have consequences in the decades ahead.”

“After this pandemic, it is a fair guess, we will be more inclined to believe the experts and to value medical science the same way we have worshipped computer technology,” King wrote for “… Now we are struggling with an assault that will be seminal in its impact, personally frightening and economically devastating.”

Amid this scare, individual precautions are paramount: Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and if you cough or sneeze, cover it up. The state Health Department advises taking “social distancing” precautions, such as working from home if possible and avoiding large gatherings.

Anyone recently exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 should stay home. People who think they may have COVID-19 should get checked. “Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow the spread of this virus,” the Health Department says.

These are unsettling times. If we all do our part, Oklahoma and the country will get through this. And maybe, God willing, that will come sooner rather than later.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›