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The story on the per diem of members of the Arkansas House of Representatives will be a column for another day.

Today, my admonition to the reader, is wash, wash, wash your hands. Do it with soap and water and, above all else, stay calm.

As a proud Arkansan, I can say jokingly, there appeared a humorous cartoon of sorts on Facebook this past week, suggesting that All Arkansas' citizens should "Warsh" their hands.

I cannot agree more.

This coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is real.

It harkens me back to only two times in modern Arkansas history which people can recall.

The events of the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu epidemic and again the early days following the start of World War II, come to mind.

The Spanish Flu epidemic broke out while my late grandfather was in a Georgia Army Training Center, as a young 18-year-old, in the signal corps preparing to be shipped overseas to the European continent.

He recalls seeing colleague after colleague collapsing from the onslaught of the flu. He saw the base build its own field hospital just to house these ill soldiers.

Many thousands of Arkansans also died in the 1918-1919 Flu epidemic.

The saving grace of my grandfather's commanding officer at the Georgia military training facility was to personally issue each recruit his own cloth handkerchief.

While that sounds simple, and often overlooked, my grandfather believed until his death that the simple use of a handkerchief for personal hygiene of coughing and sneezing in public -- into that piece of cloth -- rather than spraying around all those germs to those in close proximity -- saved lives.

He was never without a red handkerchief in his back pocket for the rest of his life.

While he also was never one to disdain the use of soap and water and vigorous scrubbing of his manly hands. Not a giant of a man, he was a stout, salt-of-the-earth farmer who made his way being physically fit and kept fit by a good diet, exercise, being aware of his surroundings and caring for his neighbors.

It sounds like what the Center for Disease Control experts are saying Americans should do today.

We should all avoid crowds.

Wash our hands -- several times a day -- and be extremely aware of your hygiene.

We should isolate from others. If you must be in the public, just be smart.

If the kids are home, plan activities to keep everyone moving and safe from spreading this virus.

Also look out for your neighbors -- especially the older, elderly. Share what you have in the way of food, cleaning supplies, etc., rather than hoard such items.

Now the World War II connection to this pandemic -- misinformation abounded back then.

Today, there is a lot of information out there -- not all of it good, solid useful information.

There is a lot to be wary of and even more to question as we all head deeper into this self-imposed wait for this to pass.

Support your local mayor, county judge and elected officials and their directives. I could not be prouder of Gov. Asa Hutchinson and his staff; they have been getting out the message each and every day to the citizens of Arkansas.

And as good citizens, we should heed the warnings, follow the suggestions, make cutbacks, continue the closures and follow these suggestions coming from our elected officials.

This is not the time for a "blame game," or "gotcha" about who said what first and how statements said on Monday change by Wednesday or Friday.

Wash, wash, wash your hands and stay safe, my friends.

Politics can wait another week or more amid a global health crisis that has found its way to our nation, our state and our community.

• • •

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at maylontrice@yahoo.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 03/25/2020

Print Headline: Wash, wash, your hands; stay safe; care for neighbors

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