It would be an understatement to say that it has been a strange week across our country, as we begin staring down the barrel of what will undoubtedly be a disruption of our day to day activities as we know it. I typically use this space to promote educational programs, and discuss issues regarding agriculture and natural resources, but it appears those things are going to be put on hold in the short term as we plan and deal with a pandemic virus that will be making its way around Indiana and the rest of the world in the coming weeks/months. As I think about how to tie this issue in with my job as a Purdue Extension Educator, one piece of advice comes to mind: listen to scientists and experts, and ignore the rest of the noise.
In my job, I frequently give people advice and recommendations on questions and issues they are a having with their crops, landscape, garden, and a host of other things. It is my duty, when answering these questions, to have scientific and research based information to back up the answers that I provide. Sources like Facebook, Google, and others have their purposes, but seeking reliable information is not one of them, and information that is shared or searched for on the internet must be properly vetted otherwise it should not be trusted. When in doubt, I would recommend making sure the website you are reading ends in either a .edu or .gov, as these are organizations that are heavily audited, and must contain research based, factual information.
So as we enter a period of time in the coming weeks and months, where misinformation and opinions of what is happening will be spreading faster than a virus, I would urge you to listen to the science and people who specialize in this arena. There will be a great temptation to ignore it, because perhaps things may not have affected you or your community yet, but the science says that the only way to keep it that way is to follow the directions that have been laid out by our specialists, such as the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Remember, if we listen now, and do things like avoid large public gatherings and limit our travel, the best case scenario is that this will all seem like a big over-reaction. But it is that over-reaction that will keep our community and loved ones safe.