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To Protect Your Family From the Coronavirus

The global coronavirus outbreak has had an impact on everyone’s life. Since President Trump declared a national emergency a week ago, many new steps have been taken to protect our population and slow the spread of this disease.

Numerous events have been canceled, including sports, church services, and public meetings of all kinds.

The goal is to slow the spread of the disease so that we don’t have a rapid spike in infections, which could overwhelm our hospitals’ ability to care for the seriously ill patients.

It is important that everyone protect themselves and their families by taking these precautions.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands, and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Practice basic hygiene. Cough and sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Clean frequently touched surfaces often, such as light switches, cellphones and countertops.

Avoid public gatherings of 10 or more people. When you are with others, keep 6 feet of space between you and others.

The elderly and anyone with chronic health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, are at greatest risk from this disease. Isolate and protect family members who are in these categories.

This past Monday, the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued new guidelines to help protect Americans during the global outbreak.

The new recommendations are simple to follow but will have a resounding effect on public health.

Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.

If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work or out in public. Contact your medical provider. If your children are sick, keep them at home and contact your medical provider.

If someone in your household has tested positive for the coronavirus, keep the entire household at home.

If you are an older American, stay home and away from other people.

If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition, such as a significant heart or lung problem, stay home and away from other people.

These guidelines build on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s general recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Again, Americans should continue practicing strict personal hygiene, including washing hands regularly for at least 20 seconds at a time and wiping down surfaces in the home often.

Even if you are young and otherwise healthy, you are at risk, and your activities can increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus for others. Everyone can do their part.

There’s no better way to protect your family and your community than by arming yourself with accurate, up-to-date information available from the CDC at bit.ly/LFcoronavirus2

To Make Up Needed Pesticide Credits Online

The recent cancellation of public events has had a major effect on Penn State Extension meetings scheduled for March and beyond.

I was scheduled to speak at seven meetings next week, including the GAP Connections meetings for tobacco farmers. All of these events have been canceled.

The problem is all of these meetings provided credits for farmers to maintain their pesticide applicator licenses.

This is a particular problem for those with a private applicators license that was set to expire the end of this month.

As I write this, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is discussing an extension to the deadline for the private applicators license renewal.

They may also extend the grace period to get make-up credits for private applicators whose license expired last year.

Stay tuned for that news; check this column again next week. In the meantime, if your license expires the end of March, you will still have 10 days when it is valid and you will be able to purchase the products you need for this spring.

Penn State Extension is offering some online pesticide credit options for those who have an internet connection.

On March 26 there are two options for two core and two category credits. One is at noon and the other is at 7 p.m. There is a $10 charge for each class.

Both sessions will be recorded and will be available for 30 days after the live sessions. After the training you will take a simple 10-question quiz.

A 70% correct score will earn you the credits for that session.

Register for these sessions at bit.ly/march26event

Other opportunities to earn credits are available at extension.psu.edu/online-pest-credits

We are very aware that many folks do not have internet access. We will be seeking ways to address the need when it is considered safe to have public meetings again.

PaPlants, managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, is the complete database of approved recertification courses, including the online courses.

PaPlants can be found at www.paplants.pa.gov Then highlight Pesticide Programs on the left hand side, and then click on Recertification Meeting Locator.

Select Online or Webinar as the Meeting Type and the category that you need. Click on Search and see the list of available courses or webinars. Many opportunities are available for most categories.

To Contact Extension Staff by Phone

At the present time, most Penn State Extension offices are closed to the public. However, staff are on duty and are available to respond to your questions by phone.

Call your county Extension office if you have questions and need assistance during this time.

Quote Of The Week

“What we’re trying to do is to make sure (we) don’t get to the worst-case scenario. That’s what we need to do.”

— Dr. Anthony Fauci

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force

Leon Ressler is a Penn State Extension educator based in Lancaster County.