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Welcome to yet another pandemic tipsheet. Along with HD Media reporters and Washington Post news and commentaries, I have dedicated much of my space to keeping readers informed on the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it spawns.

A USA Today piece reported just days ago on four symptoms to add to the conventional list of what to watch for in your household: congestion, runny nose, nausea and diarrhea.

Another late addition is something called “COVID toes.” These would be purple or blue lesions on the toes or other parts of the feet.

Let’s also recall the longstanding symptoms of this highly infectious and often punishing or even fatal plague: Chills, fever, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, cough, and loss of taste or smell.

Yes, you’ve already intuited part of the problem: Most of these conditions are also symptomatic of other, and unrelated, maladies, including the common cold (also a coronavirus, just a better known one), flu, allergies, and strep sore throat.

If you or a loved one manifests one or more symptoms, your best bet is to get tested for COVID-19 ASAP. Here in Huntington and in other sizable West Virginia communities, that’s still relatively doable. We are not short of testing capacity, as may bedevil other locations.

As all should know, Gov. Jim Justice has mandated wearing a mask in all indoor public spaces, and limiting gatherings (including of family and friends) to a maximum of 25 people to a purely social event. At Barboursville Kroger, mask wearing looks about 90 per cent of shoppers these days — sharply up from before the mandate was announced.

Indoor dining is still possible, but restaurants are restricted to 50% of capacity and they must social-distance tables. All servers and kitchen personnel, as well as the cashier, should be masked.

On those televised colored maps of the country indicating “hot spots” by darker shades of red, West Virginia has been showing up as among states with the steepest rise of COVID-19 cases. The primary suspects indicated in media reports are Memorial Day weekend treks to Myrtle Beach and other South Carolina hot spots.

The culprits? Mostly young adults, from late teens through mid 30s. These are also the people testing positive in alarming numbers and causing our virus caseload to skyrocket. We’ll be seeing shortly if another stampede to the beaches over the July 4 weekend will boost our virus cases even higher.

Much has been made by rightwing media of the fact that “the death rates are down.” Right. Cases are up, death rates are down. The reason, it’s thought, is that young people often weather the virus better than those 65 and older or those with underlying medical conditions.

That said, young people too may take very ill and even die. As did a healthy 30-year-old woman (name withheld) recently who had gone to a “COVID party.” Crazy idea. Go to a party where someone is known to have the virus, and see who else can catch it. “I should have known better,” she said before closing her eyes in death.

John Patrick Grace formerly covered healthcare for The Greensboro (N.C.) News and Record. He is currently a book editor in Huntington and teaches The Life Writing Class.

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