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The new coronavirus is so dangerous in part because it’s so stealthy.

It generally doesn’t show itself with a rash. It hides behind flu-like symptoms. It sneaks into your body through the air, through human touch and on surfaces.

Perhaps its most stealthy characteristic? It affects different people in vastly different ways.

Some show no symptoms and don’t even know they have the disease. Many have a little trouble breathing or a scratchy throat. Others wind up in a hospital, some in need of a ventilator to keep breathing.

And tragically, at least 62 people in Madison County, at least 1,700 in Indiana, at least 90,000 in the United States and at least 300,000 worldwide have died of COVID-19. At its current pace, COVID-19 will overtake all other causes of death, except for cancer and heart disease, this year in the U.S.

The stealthiness of the coronavirus, particularly the unpredictability of its symptoms, means that public health directives to stop its spread serve a dual purpose — they can prevent you from contracting the virus, and they can prevent you from spreading the virus.

People who are young and healthy might believe that they could easily overcome the coronavirus if they contract it. They might adopt the attitude that they don’t need to wear a mask or social distance because they believe themselves impervious to the disease.

But it’s extremely important to the health of others that all people, regardless of their perception of the personal threat, follow the directives of health experts.

Here’s one way to think of it: If you wouldn’t carelessly handle a loaded gun as you encounter people on the street, you shouldn’t be mixing with others in public places without a mask.

You might be asymptomatic, but you might be a carrier of the coronavirus. Assume that you are.

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