Local and state officials are urging people to help limit the spread of COVID-19 by using social distancing measures.

“If we start the the mitigation procedure earl that is limiting crowd size, close schools for two weeks – these are mitigation strategies that allows us to go about business and life in Arkansas but at the same time to mitigate against wider spread of the Coronavirus. That is our objective,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a news conference Monday. “Our strategy is simply to be ahead of the curve to mitigate while we don’t have serious community spread in Arkansas.”

The governor said restaurants, grocery stores and other private businesses “will continue to operate on their own choosing,” and warned residents against hoarding items, which causes other community members to run short on needed items.

Hutchinson said there was no need to stockpile items as stores will be open and shelves will be restocked.

The state will put a halt on large events, the governor said.

“No crowd sizes more than 50 people,” he said, adding that he “discourages unnecessary out-of-state travel during this time of mitigation.”

In a March 16 announcement, President Donald Trump revised the number downward to gatherings of no more than 10 people.

Secretary of the Arkansas Health Department Dr. Nate Smith said residents who aren’t sick don’t have to be quarantined to their homes but encouraged people to choose small gatherings.

“It’s a great time to go fishing with a friend as opposed to a big party,” Smith said. “We can all do things to protect ourselves, our neighbors and our families.”

The governor said if Arkansans will adhere to these guidelines, the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control sooner than if they don’t.

“The end will come sooner if we mitigate and address these problems aggressively now, and that’s what we’re doing,” Hutchinson said.

For those displaying symptoms

The Center for Disease Control has released steps of what one should do if they are sick with COVID-19 or living with someone who is sick.

The CDC instructs for those who are mildly ill with COVID-19 should restrict activities outside their home except for getting medical care.

It advises to avoid public areas by not going to work, school, public areas, as well as using public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.

While at home, separate yourself from other people and animals in your home.

Isolate oneself in the home by using one bedroom and bathroom, if available.

Also, one should restrict contact with pets and other animals, while sick with COVID-19 until more is known about the virus.

If one must take care of their pet while sick, it is recommended they wash their hands before and after interacting with pets and wear a face mask.

Calling ahead before visiting one’s doctor is also advised.

This will help the healthcare provider’s office to take steps to keep others from getting exposed or infected.

If one is sick, wear a face mask when around others or pets when entering a healthcare provider’s office.

If a person who is sick is not able to wear a face mask because of breathing trouble, then people who live with the person who is sick should wear a face mask if they enter a room with the person who is sick.

Covering coughs and sneezes and immediately washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds can go a long way.

Washing hands often will also help.

If soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol should be used.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding should be not be shared with other people or pets in one’s home.

High-tough surfaces and areas with bodily fluids that may have blood, stool or body fluids on them should be routinely disinfected.

Monitor symptoms and seek medical attention if one’s illness is worsening.

Finally, stay at home until instructed to leave and talk to one’s healthcare provider before exiting one’s home.

Jeanette Anderton can be reached atjanderton@thecabin.net.

Andy Robertson can be reached at arobertson@thecabin.net.

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