I am an ER doctor in Lynchburg. Unlike some other communities, we are in the calm before the storm. If you think that this virus will not affect everyone, all you need to do is look to news coming out of Italy. A modern society with top notch medical care has been devastated. I am not an infectious disease expert, and these are my opinions only. I’m asking my friends, neighbors, fellow citizens and strangers to do these things for the next 30 days.

1. Stay calm, don’t panic.

2. Stay informed. Please choose multiple sources of information. This is not the time to be a Republican or Democrat; we are all Americans. Pay particular attention to Dr. Anthony Fauci. He is an expert in infectious diseases and is the type of physician we all want, someone who will tell us the unvarnished truth and the prescription for what to do.

3. Wash your hands. Do it whenever you think of it and try not to touch your face.

4. If you become sick with a high fever with cough and cold symptoms, look for drive-through testing facilities in your community. Treat yourself with Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Get rest and drink plenty of fluids. There is no treatment for this illness other than supportive care. If you need reassurance from a doctor, please try to use telemedicine resources first. If you have a high fever and become significantly short of breath, go to the nearest Emergency Department.

5. Stay home as much as you can especially if you are over 50 years old with chronic medical conditions. You can connect with friends and family via text, video chat or even just an old school phone call. Binge watch a few shows, play games as a family, listen to the radio and podcasts, catch up on the honey do-list and read some books.

6. Practice social distancing. I’d like to make a special appeal to people who are young and healthy. Your generation has criticized mine for our handling of the environment. That is a discussion for another time. Show your concern for society by avoiding crowds. Get take out to support your favorite restaurant, meet a few friends but please skip the crowded bars, coffee houses, frat parties, etc. Show leadership by what you do. Despite what you have heard this is not “just like the flu.” Remember that no one is immune; there is no vaccine and no cure. You just might save the life of your parents, grandparents and older coworkers by the choices you make.

7. Don’t travel unless absolutely necessary. I know cheap tickets are tempting but now is definitely not the time.

8. Get fresh air. Go for a walk, see the signs of springtime. I love trail running. You might see me by myself running in the woods.

9. Please do what you can to help. Realize that our government is doing everything they can. We can argue about the right and wrong choices that have been made up to this point at a later date. Right now it is all hands on deck and we will each make choices in the coming weeks that have the potential to help or hurt our family, friends and neighbors.

10. Stay connected with each other on social media. After all, isn’t that what it is supposed to be for? We will all need the support. Watch church services online for spiritual strength. Save hugs, handshakes and daps for later.

You may argue with me that this is all overblown. My gut tells me that it is not. Just look at the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, and you’ll realize that this is now worldwide. We will all know someone who becomes infected, and we will all know someone who dies from this. If you think that this 30-day challenge is a waste of time my only question to you is what is the downside. You might read a book, connect with your teenagers, reconnect with your spouse, learn a new skill, etc. This is not forever.

I’m proud to be on the frontlines with a very talented group of volunteers, nurses, EMTs, police officers, NPs, PAs, respiratory techs, unit clerks and doctors. Please help us do our jobs by trying the suggestions above for the next 30 days. Please do not put us in the situation taking place in Italy right now where we have to decide whether your father, best friend or grandmother gets to survive.



From the editor

The following letters are a sampling of letters The News & Advance received over the weekend from writers concerned about Liberty University’s plans to have students return from spring break and to conduct business as usual wit on-campus instruction. Late Monday afternoon, school officials reversed course, but we believe it is important for the community to read about the level of concern prior to LU’s announcement.

Keep Lynchburg safe, Mr. Falwell

An open letter to Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University:

My wife and I are senior citizens living and working in the Lynchburg area.

Please save us from COVID-19. It is in your hands to do so. Please postpone the reopening of your campus after the spring break. The only effective preventive measure we have against this ghastly virus is to implement social distancing measures to deny the virus the pathways to spread and establish itself in our community.

If you allow Liberty University’s students come back from break from the four points of the compass, you would be presenting the contagion with a golden opportunity to spread and would be endangering, not those most youthful and vigorous, but those most vulnerable amongst us. As President Trump said, “These short-term sacrifices will produce long-term gains.”



Love your neighbors, LU

I am appalled at the large churches that held services in spite of government warnings for people to avoid 500-person gatherings to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Could it be possible that their bottom line is more important to them than helping to save lives? Folks sometimes don’t give their money if they aren’t in the services. I agree with the minister who said the word of God is the most powerful thing that we have at this time. Possibly, he never read the part about loving your neighbors as yourself.

It isn’t just the attendees of the big churches who face increased risk from being in large groups. It is the folks they could carry the virus to — the elderly, the sick, those they contact in the workplace whose immunity may not be as good as theirs.

I am also appalled at Jerry Falwell Jr. who plans to bring 15,000 students back to Lynchburg after spring break. These students come from places all over the country and the world. Some of them hold jobs in Lynchburg and shop in stores and probably worship at the large churches that are holding services. The number of opportunities they may have for spreading the virus is mind boggling. Maybe President Falwell doesn’t read scriptures about loving one’s neighbors either.

Some businesses are more responsible. Disney World is closing. Large movie houses are limiting customers to 250 per showing. Sports events are cancelled with doubtlessly high financial losses. Maybe these folks know more than some large churches and some Christian colleges about trying to protect their neighbors. Some people are taking this pandemic seriously while others are not. Do we live in an area where many people with big responsibilities are ignoring the possible damage their decisions could bring to others?



Be socially responsible

I just read that Liberty University is reopening their campus after spring break, bringing thousands of students from all over the U.S. back to Lynchburg after spring break. These folks will have been all over the country and possibly exposed to COVID-19 in their travels, yet not showing symptoms.

With the country in the middle of a pandemic, why doesn’t this seem like such a good idea? Why are other large and small universities closing their campuses? Why is LU so eager to place the City of Lynchburg at such possible great risk for COVID-19 exposure by bringing so many people back to the city now? How prepared is the medical system at LU or in Lynchburg for a worst-case outbreak that could happen with this influx of people? Even without a major outbreak, how prepared is LU’s medical system for any level of outbreak, or will they depend on city services, which may already be stretched thin?

Please LU, change your plans.



We’ll remember

If, by the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of millions of Americans guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state governments to selflessly follow social distancing and health guidelines, the United States manages to “flatten the curve” and avoid a catastrophic COVID-19 epidemic, it will be despite the egregious ignorance, arrogance and selfishness of the Trump administration and the likes of Jerry Falwell Jr.

But make no mistake, if we do indeed mitigate this crisis, it will be Trump who takes credit for success and Falwell who claims the situation was exaggerated and politically motivated. I hope all Americans will remember both men’s blatant and flagrant disregard for the well-being of our communities and hold them accountable.



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