March 16, 2020

The unknown is frightening. We all react in different ways. Some go into denial (it’s a hoax!). Others freak out (let’s hoard toilet paper!). The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle in this world that is changing faster than you can say “COVID-19.”

Anxiety is a normal reaction to abnormal times. But, it isn’t much fun. Trust me, I got a full blast of it when I was diagnosed with melanoma years ago. Your brain, in constant fight-or-flight mode, will react to EVERYTHING. You’ll be exhausted. And, you’ll need to cope.

Last Saturday, NPR’s Renee Montagne interviewed psychologist Maggie Mulqueen on how to cope with COVID-19 Anxiety. Mulqueen had some good tips that are worth sharing. One cause of anxiety is the loss of the sense of control (i.e. rising  COVID-19 numbers and the struggling financial markets.) Mulqueen says we should just do something. Why?

Purpose. I think one of the most important things we need is to have a sense of purpose. Another thing I suggested to somebody else I saw today is I said, you know, I wish when people were going to the store and hoarding all these, you know, toilet paper, whatever, they would also be buying aluminum pans that they could make meals for other people and leave on their doorstep. You know, you will have done good and feel so much better about yourself.

She recommends her clients ask these questions:

How can you be prepared? How do you stay, you know, appropriately aware of the changing news but not get paralyzed?

For me, I am unplugging from social media and the news at regular interviews. I think that’s a healthy strategy. We need to give ourselves a moment to breathe. Purpose is important, too. Since you’ll probably be home more, build structure in your day (8 tips for working at home via NPR). Be careful how you self medicate. Work hard to be present but realize that this also will pass. Also, find credible sources of information. We at Mississippi Today will work hard to get you the information you need to know.

And before I move on to the news stories, I want to give a shout out to everyone who is still working hard to keep things going. Our healthcare workers, grocery store shelf stockers, truck drivers, etc. are redefining what we consider to be a hero.

Thank you.


Here’s a good national COVID-19 roundup video via NBC’s Today Show.  One shocking recommendation came late yesterday when the CDC recommended cancelling all gatherings over 50 people for eight weeks. Other states closing bars, gyms and restaurants. Will that happen here? Nike, Disney and other retailers are closing stores. Chick-fil-A has decided to close its dining rooms (but there is always the drive-thru) As of this typing, there are 10 known cases in Mississippi. Two are students from JSU and UMMC coming back from spring break. Mississippi Blood Services has cancelled several blood drives and thus has a blood shortage. Click here for more information on how you can donate.

MHSAA, the governing body of Mississippi public school high school sports, has suspended all competition and practice through March 29. Here’s their statement.

Effective immediately, March 16, all MHSAA interscholastic sports and fine-arts activities competition and practice is suspended through March 29 and until further notice. This suspension applies whether or not a school is open or closed during this timeline. 

Have questions about COVID-19? The Mississippi Department of Health has a hotline: COVID-19 Hotline: 877-978-6453   Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Click here for Mississippi Today’s Coronavirus coverage.


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Marshall Ramsey, a nationally recognized editorial cartoonist, shares his cartoons and travels the state as Mississippi Today’s Editor-At-Large. He’s also host of a weekly statewide radio program and a television program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and is the author of several books. Marshall is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2019 recipient of the University of Tennessee Alumni Professional Achievement Award.