Michael Cloud

Michael Cloud

Underreacting and overreacting are both dangerous when it comes to having concerns about the new coronavirus, U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud said Thursday.

“We could artificially tax health care systems to where we create other issues for other people in danger,” he said, adding, “It is important for us to realize it is a serious issue.”

“So the whole question is, how do we have the appropriate response?” he asked. “Setting that gauge will be different for any community.”

Cloud spoke about the virus as concerns and precautionary measures about the new coronavirus continue to increase at the local and global level. There have not yet been any confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in Victoria County.

During a recent House Oversight Committee hearing about the virus, Cloud asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to compare the virus to the seasonal flu as well as SARS and H1N1.

Fauci said COVID-19 has spread far more than SARS, and is at a minimum, 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. As of Thursday afternoon, there are 1,215 cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though the numbers are rapidly changing.

Cloud asked Fauci whether COVID-19 is less lethal than H1N1 or SARS, to which Fauci replied, “No, absolutely not.” Fauci said the H1N1 pandemic was “even less lethal than the seasonal flu.”

Cloud said he was trying to help the American people know where to appropriately set their gauge of concern.

“I think you set the gauge at this is a really serious problem that we have to take seriously,” Fauci replied.

On Thursday, Cloud said he thinks that for most residents, it is important to take the appropriate precautions – such as washing hands and staying home if they feel sick – while also being careful not to overreact and unnecessarily burden health care workers and emergency responders.

“For example, we’ve had people who had no symptoms call 911 wanting an ambulance to escort them to a test,” he said. “We need to be careful to be wise in our interactions.”

Despite all the precaution, Cloud said, everyone should be prepared for the virus to affect their community.

“Certainly an elbow bump might be better than handshakes at this point,” he laughed.

In Victoria, numerous events have been canceled and precautionary measures have been taken despite no confirmed cases locally. On Thursday, it was announced that the University of Houston-Victoria’s Victoria and Katy campuses would begin their spring breaks early at noon Thursday.

Cloud said residents should look to their public health departments and community leaders for the most up-to-date direction and guidance about the best way to proceed with events and activities.

He said at the end of the day, people should do their best to be mindful and not panic unnecessarily.

“We will get through this and eventually get back to some sense of normalcy,” he said.

Morgan Theophil covers local government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6511, mtheophil@vicad.com or on Twitter.

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