Officials Seek to Allay Public Fear About Coronavirus

No, you don’t need to stockpile beans and rice, and unless you are actually exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, you can take that mask off. But you do need to wash your hands, and you shouldn’t come to work if you’re sick.

That is the gist of the advice given at a town hall briefing with U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, Dallas County Health and Human Services director Dr. Philip Huang, and UT Southwestern Medical Center infectious disease chief Dr. Trish M. Perl.

State Sen. Nathan Johnson moderated the discussion about the latest on the coronavirus and resources for the public.

Big takeaways: Wash your hands. And keep washing them. Perl said that handwashing with soap and water (or in a pinch, a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content) reduces transmission by 50 percent.

“There’s not a lot out there that we can say reduces transmission by 50 percent,” she said.

We were on hand to live-tweet the briefing. The thread from that briefing follows (you can also read it on one page here).

After the briefing, Huang and Allred met briefly with the press to answer further questions.


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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at

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