Local task force: Concerns about virus need to be taken seriously without hysteria

Published 7:44 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2020

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Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell convened a Coronavirus Task Force a few weeks ago made up of representatives from the business, education and health sectors of the community and members have been meeting weekly to plan strategies to combat COVID-19.

“What we are trying to do is three-fold,” said Chesney Doyle, task force member. “No. 1, we are trying to verify that at-risk congregate sites — schools, churches movie theaters, whatever — have prevention and or response protocols in place, if not we connect them with the appropriate authority to get the information.”

Secondly, the task force is providing updated information from the CDC, WHO and the Mississippi Health Department to those organizations, Doyle said.

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“No. 3, we are trying to make sure, as best we can, that the leadership of the city is doing all it can to ensure the safety of the people of the community and also to help people stay on track with factual information and not hysterical information.”

Doyle said inaccurate, or “hysterical,” information is problematic and spreads quickly on social media platforms. Such misinformation ranges from “doomsday the sky is falling” information to people saying COVID-19 is no worse than the flu and is nothing to worry about. Neither of those statements is true, Doyle said.

“In reality, we need to take it seriously and take appropriate precautions and make sure we have protocols in place should the virus come to our area,” Doyle said. “On one hand people are overreacting in a hysterical way and that is not going to help. On the other hand people who really are receiving and believing information that it is nothing to be concerned about is making the work of health professionals and the task force much more difficult.”