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Rely on the experts, not the skeptics


It feels like we’re all in the opening scene of a horror movie, with birds flocking ominously on power lines all over town.

Things are calm now. Some people see the danger coming and scramble to board up the windows. Others scoff at the nervous Nellies and go about their business as usual.

There is no certainty as to what the next few weeks and months will bring. But experts tell us a lot of people will get sick from the coronavirus here, just as they have in other countries.

And so, the government is taking measures that seem clearly disproportionate to the problem that now exists. Last week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham shut down the schools. Casinos have also been closed. Bars and restaurants are limited to 50 percent capacity.

Any event intended to draw a crowd has been cancelled. No gathering in the state can have more than 100 people, even if it’s private.

The decision by the NBA to cancel its season seemed rash until we learned that same night that two players for the Utah Jazz had tested positive for the virus.

Many of the things I look forward to each spring won’t happen this year.

The Sunshine Week event we had scheduled for last week had to be cancelled. Our topic was the future of community journalism, and I felt like we had a strong panel of both traditional and new-media journalists for the discussion.

My Nuggets and Avs had both locked up playoff spots with young, exciting teams. The Aggies looked like a lock to go back to the NCAA Tournament.

My team in the fantasy baseball league started years ago by former Sun-News Sports Editor Teddy Feinberg was eager for revenge after losing to former Sun-News copy editor Wes Schwengels in the finals last year.

I’ve tried not to pay much attention to the stock market’s wild swings and calamitous plunge, given the fact that I can neither change it nor predict where things will be at the end. I do expect that a great deal of wealth will be lost.

But all that matters now is staying healthy.

I know there are brilliant people working tirelessly to address this pandemic, and I have tremendous faith in their knowledge and skills. But I don’t trust the person who is leading the nation.

The president has told us that everyone who wants a test can get one. That wasn’t true. He told us sick people were still going to work and doing fine. That wasn’t wise. He told us at the start that only 15 people were infected, and the number would quickly go down to zero.

We’re taking our cues from the medical experts. We’re staying off airplanes and avoiding cruise ships like the plague. We’re working from home and holding our conferences by Skype.

We recognize that friendly gestures like a handshake may hold hidden dangers.

We’re washing our hands more and paying attention to the public surfaces we come in contact with. I didn’t realize how often I touch my face. If I don’t think about it, my hands just instinctively go to my eyes and mouth all the time. And so now I think about it.

We stay home more. And when we do go out, we give a wide berth to anybody who looks like they may have the sniffles.

There will be more closures and enforced restrictions in the days ahead, as the numbers of those infected continues to grow.

Some will accuse the government of over-reacting. I sure hope those folks are proven right in the end.

But I’m not relying on it.

Walt Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com