Our view: Now is not the time for panic

DKS Editors

Yesterday afternoon, the university confirmed its first case of swine flu with a bulletin on www.kent.edu/flu, Kent State’s official H1N1 Web site.

The announcement ended weeks of speculation on when the virus would hit campus. Since before the semester even began, the university has been preparing for swine flu – and so have we.

So now what? What happens next?

What we can’t do now is panic. This kind of announcement was expected after outbreaks of H1N1 hit campuses across the country in the early weeks of September. Kent State was actually lucky to last as long as it did without any confirmed cases. Panicking now would be the absolutely wrong response to the university’s announcement because doing so causes an even bigger problem.

But there is something we can do. We can redouble our efforts to make sure we don’t get swine flu.

This semester, we’ve run two editorials advising students, faculty and staff to take all precautions against H1N1. We’d like to reiterate that message now because the best way to avoid spreading swine flu is to keep from getting it in the first place.

The first step everyone should take is to get a flu vaccine, both for the regular flu and H1N1. Regular flu season officially “begins” Oct. 4, and it’s important to vaccinate against it. Flu shots are available both on and off campus.

The H1N1 vaccination, while not yet available, should arrive sometime this fall – so keep your eyes open for when it becomes available.

But getting a flu shot is just the first step in prevention. The second step is sanitation.

It can’t be said enough: Keep your hands clean. Sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. Use hand sanitizers like Purell – or better yet, use soap. As simple as it sounds, it can help prevent the spread of swine flu.

Finally, if you’re feeling sick, do not go to class. This virus is too easily spread to risk your classmates’ health. So if you feel sick and think you may be coming down with swine flu, go to the doctor or just stay at home altogether. The university is providing food delivery services for sick students in residence halls, so you won’t have to risk making others sick.

If you live off campus, see if your roommates are willing to help you – or just go to your permanent home. If your friends aren’t willing to help, odds are your family will be.

So, as expected, the first case of swine flu has hit Kent State. But if we don’t panic and instead focus on prevention, we can try to keep that one case from becoming dozens of cases.

It’s up to you: How do you want to respond?

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.