It seems everyone has an opinion on the COVID-19 virus and how the community, nation and world are responding, whether qualified or not.

This week the city of Kissimmee invited one of our community’s best resources on the topic, Osceola County Department of Health Director, Vianca McCluskey, to talk a little about what we’re doing to fight the spread of coronavirus — working to flatten that curve — and why we’re doing it.

Why we are practicing social distancing: “What we’ve learned is that coronavirus spreads from person to person during close contact. Get too close to someone who has the virus who coughs or sneezes, and you could breathe in droplets which contain the virus.

“Social distancing increases the space between people to reduce the transmission of the disease. Social distancing and other preventive measures is especially important now before we have a vaccine widely available. It’s important to slow the rate of infection so that our hospitals are not overwhelmed by a surge or large number of patience needed to be cured all at once.”

What to watch for, and who should watch it more closely: Those who are aged 65 and up and anyone with underlying and pre-existing conditions — those with diabetes, heart and respiratory conditions — are most at risk for COVID-19 and should be staying home as much as possible, McCluskey said.

“Avoid being exposed to the virus and avoid exposing other people — that’s where the hand washing and hand santizier come in, especially after being in a public place or before eating and after blowing the nose, coughing or sneezing.

“Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch so many surfaces daily, where we can pick up the virus on our hands, and then introduce it to the body by touching our eye, nose or mouth. Cough or sneeze into a tissue. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.”

What symptoms to watch for, and when: The symptoms — a fever over 100.4 degrees, a cough and respiratory issues — have been showing up two to 14 days after exposure in most cases. The CDC has a self checker on its website  about when to seek care. If you have serious symptoms, call their health care provider or county health care department (Osceola DOH: 407-343-2000) to set up immediate care.

Where to go for information: The Florida Department of Health’s hotline (866-779-6121) is open 24/7.  Email questions to