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Coronavirus response is team effort

Over the past weeks, Americans have watched as COVID-19, or coronavirus, spread from China to other parts of the world.

As a doctor, father and grandfather, I understand Pennsylvanians’ growing concerns about this virus and its potential consequences not only for our nation, but also for our area.

Here’s the good news: Of any nation in the world, America is the most prepared to keep our communities safe.

Currently, the United States government and the Com­mon­wealth of Pennsylvania are implementing a coordinated response to protect the public.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, our public health experts are working together and taking precautions to mitigate the risks of this virus.

At the national level, President Donald Trump has taken decisive action to protect Americans and prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In January, President Trump declared a public health emergency, initiating travel restrictions and mandating quarantines for those returning from affected areas. He also formed the Corona­virus Task Force to ensure a coordinated response among all U.S. agencies and experts.

Since then, the Trump administration has expanded travel restrictions, explored innovative medical solutions, and requested additional funding for corona­virus response resources.

Our public health experts are taking preemptive precautions to keep us safe, and all of us can do our part to help. The first step of prevention is recognizing the symptoms of coronavirus. Currently, experts believe that symptoms of this respiratory illness — including fever, cough and shortness of breath — can appear two to 14 days after exposure.

As an important note: If you or a loved one develop these symptoms after being in close contact with a person known to have coronavirus or after traveling from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of coronavirus, you should call your health care provider for further instructions.

Preventing coronavirus requires a team effort. All of us can take simple precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors, such as:

— Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

— Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

— Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

— Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

— Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

— Stay up to date on vaccinations, including the flu vaccine.

— And, importantly, stay home when you are sick.

As we take these preventative measures, it is important to remain vigilant. This situation is changing daily, and even hourly. Both the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are providing updates to the public as information becomes available.

In Congress, I will continue working with the Trump administration, as well as our state and local officials, to protect the people of Pennsyl­vania, and I am grateful for Pennsylvanians’ diligence as we prepare for the potential spread of coronavirus.

From the dawn of our nation, Americans have triumphed over trials by working together. Our current challenge is no different.

By being mindful, taking precautions and looking out for one another, we can mitigate the risks of coronavirus and protect our community.

John Joyce, R-Blair, represents the 13th Congressional District.

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