Mike McNeill

Mike McNeill is publisher and editor of magnoliareporter.com.

An El Dorado woman got locked up a few months ago for posting on her Facebook page that there had been a shooting at an El Dorado school. The post caused a brief panic as lawmen and parents flooded the campus. We reminded a friend of that arrest after she expressed outrage about someone sending a prank post about COVID-19 deaths in Columbia County. (As we write this, there have been no COVID-19 deaths in Columbia County, and only 1 confirmed case). So yeah. Consider this a warning to anyone who is inclined to spread false rumors relating to public health on social media. Now isn’t the time.

Larry Taylor, the county manager for Emergency Management, said during Tuesday night’s local COVID-19 press conference that in many respects social media is an enemy right now. We don’t think social media is an enemy, but we will say it’s a double-edged sword. When it’s used to educate, inform, amuse and entertain, it’s great. When it’s used viciously or maliciously or with criminal intent, it’s the devil’s tool. Anyone looking for a good rule of thumb about what’s posted on social media should bear that in mind. Does a post appeal to your positive qualities or to your prejudices and anxieties?

We appreciated the words of all of the speakers at Tuesday’s Columbia County COVID-19 press conference. We were especially impressed by the impassioned plea of County Coroner Randy Reed made to young people. He said many of them are not taking the virus threat seriously. There are also reports that police have broken up several large gatherings of young people. This is a reminder that young people may get sick and recover, but in the process, they could spread the virus to parents and grandparents who will get sick and become seriously ill, or even die.

People of a certain age are glad that polio has been eradicated from most of the modern world. The youngest sufferers who were born in the 1950s, before the polio vaccine was invented, are now well into their 60s. Of course, they contracted polio through no fault of their own but that didn’t stop the virus from altering their lives, and the lives of everyone around them. The survivors are living examples of what a virus can do.

Many people think that Arkansas should move toward “shelter-in-place” during the current public health emergency. Our new online poll question asks our readers about their willingness to comply with such an order, if one was issued by the governor. The present trend suggests our readers are already hunkered down or would be willing to do so. About 9 percent say they would not observe a shelter-in-place order.

Mike McNeill is publisher and editor of magnoliareporter.com. Email him at news@magnoliareporter.com or call him at 870-904-3865.

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