Trying to keep up with the COVID-19 coronavirus story has been pretty maddening. I’m writing this as I don a protective mask. Employees at The Record [all four of us] are hunkered down as we try to keep our award-winning publication going.
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     As of Tuesday day there were more than 45,000 cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., with nearly 600 deaths. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported cases. Worldwide there have been more than 390,000 cases with more than 17,000 deaths.
On Tuesday there were 206 cases in Arkansas.
     More than 265,000 of the worldwide cases have been “mild,” while more than 12,000 were serious or critical. Although the virus has claimed more than 17,000 victims, more than 103,000 people have recovered or been discharged.
     I’m just amazed at how quickly things have changed. Last Wednesday the plan was that schools in Arkansas would reopen following spring break this week. The next day, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced they would be closed through April 17, when the situation will be revisited.
     That same day, Hutchinson announced that bars and restaurants would cease in-house serving. The only way to get food from your favorite eatery would be to call ahead and pick up, or have the food delivered.
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     If things weren’t bad enough with the virus, the bottom-dwelling, scum-suckers of the world came out quickly to try and scam their way into some money.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge last week said, “Arkansans must weed out these fake websites, only relying and sharing verified information from reliable sources. Cyber criminals are spending time creating fake websites, emails and ads that look like they are from legitimate sources to take your money.”
Other scammers took to the streets. Some have been going to homes, claiming that they have test kits for sale. Of course they have no kits.
Rutledge offered these tips:
     • Get information from well-known or government sources and websites that end in .gov. Resources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health.
     • Beware of requests that ask for your personal information, credit card information, social security number or banking information.
     • Check the URL link for a “lock” icon before you proceed.
     • Look for generic email greetings like “Dear Sir or Madam” and delete emails that insist you act now.
     You can visit ArkansasAG.gov/COVID19 for all the information you need.
According to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, the door-to-door scumbags are “impersonating U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) personnel, going door-to-door offering COVID-19 testing in exchange for money and personal information. The CDC confirmed they are doing no such activity.”
     And, of course, price gouging is on the rise across North America, according to the Better Business Bureau.
“BBB has seen an increase in complaints from consumers about price gouging for critical items such as bottled water, hand sanitizer, face masks, and food supplies as ‘social distancing’ restrictions go to effect in many locations. Consumers are urged to report price gouging at BBB.org/AdTruth.”
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     I just don’t have the heart to do such things. I guess Vernon and Pauline Harrington did a pretty good job instilling sound ethics in their middle child.
If you need a shirt, I’ll give you one. If you need some hand sanitizer and I have some, I’ll share. But you won’t find me trying to rip people off during moments of crisis.
     I’m more like the owners of distilleries around the country who switched over and are making hand sanitizer, to be given away free to anyone who asks.
Now those are my kind of folks.