What do you think about the COVID-19 outbreak?

Matthew Lane • Mar 20, 2020 at 8:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Stories about COVID-19 are everywhere.

They’re filling the pages of newspapers, big and small, all across the country. They’re at the top and bottom of the hour on every radio station, and television news — whether it’s local stations or the 24-hour channels — is having no trouble filling the time slots with information and commentary about the global pandemic.

For the foreseeable future, the coronavirus IS the news.

So what do your fellow citizens think about the coronavirus outbreak and the effect it’s having on day-to-day life in the Model City? The Times News recently hit the streets to talk to some folks about these very questions. Here is what we found:

Trevor Barton: “I think people are going crazy over it ... buying toilet paper and bread. I’ve got to go to three different grocery stores just to get a loaf of bread. We’re staying in pretty much and everybody’s trying to stay away. My mom and dad aren’t getting out because they have some health problems.”

Judy Hale: “I think there’s more to it than what they’re telling us. I think they’re hiding more. China should have told us sooner. They hid stuff and I think our government isn’t telling us all of it because they don’t want a panic. I think it’s bad and it’s going to get a lot worse before it eases out.”

Ken Harmon: “We listen day to day to see what’s going on, but really I don’t think it’s any worse than the actual flu. The flu kills people every year and I think it’s being blown out of proportion. In a few weeks’ time we’re going to find out what the real motive is.”

Harmon, who is a truck driver by trade, said he’s been somewhat impacted by the coronavirus.

“They’re relaxing the hours of service so we can do what we need to do, but with everything shutting down, orders are being cut back. The worst thing with us is with restaurants and truck stops shutting down.”

Melody Harmon: “I think some people are being a bit dramatic with it and others aren’t taking it serious at all. That’s why things are having to shut down — because some people out here doing whatever. They need to find a happy medium for it.”

She is a server at a local restaurant, an industry that’s taking a hard hit from the coronavirus. Many restaurants have either shut down or have gone to drive-thru or carry-out only for the time being.

“A lot of people are afraid to come out to restaurants, so we’re pretty slow. We’ve only got two servers right now.”

Roxy Lyons spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy and admits to not following the coronavirus story as closely as most people. He did listen to one of President Trump’s speech about the response.

“I just don’t know a whole lot about the virus. Nobody knows a whole lot about the virus,” Lyons said. “I think God is trying to get this country’s attention again. He’s done it several different ways over the last 20 years.”

Following 9/11, Lyons said he was on an aircraft carrier heading to the Persian Gulf and every religious service on board was standing room only — on the way there. On the way back to the States, Lyons said you could sit anywhere you wanted to.

“That’s how fickle people are. When people get scared, they want to start running to the Lord. He wants you to be running toward him all the time.”

Letitia McCoo: “I’m glad President Trump made a decision to do something. I just wish they would have told him sooner because it would have gone really fast. I’m adjusting pretty well. I went to the grocery store for the first time yesterday in a week and was devastated. I had to go to three stores to get two things: water and a gallon of milk. I just hope everyone is safe and all right. Do basic hand-washing and if you’re sick, you need to stay in.”

Edward Osborne: “I’ve been following it on the news. It’s all that’s on and I’ve been following it pretty good. I guess most of the time just keep your hands washed and stay away from people. I’ve adjusted good so far, not had any problems with anything. I’m retired and I’m just riding it out.”

Kayla Sams: “I think it’s all a big mess and they’re making it bigger than it actually is. We’re doing fine. It’s normal for us. There’s only one outbreak in Sullivan County and they’re getting better.”

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