When an invisible, stealthy enemy invades, it’s only natural to want to know if there is danger close. Several people have contacted The Nugget asking whether there are confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sisters.

The answer isn’t very satisfying to them.

While there are daily reports on confirmed COVID-19 cases in Deschutes County, medical officials will not confirm the specific locality of those cases. If The Nugget were to confirm by other means the existence of COVID-19 cases locally, we would likely report on the fact — but not specifics of who or where. People can do strange things out of fear, and potentially stigmatizing those who have fallen ill will help no one.

The important thing to recognize is that the specific locality of confirmed cases is actually not very important information. The reason Sisters Country is shut down, along with most of the rest of the world, is that people who have no symptoms at all can carry the virus. We don’t have the testing capability to identify who is or isn’t sick, or who might be.

That’s why we have to err on the side of caution, stay home and avoid contact with others.

We know that COVID-19 is in Deschutes County. We can assume that the number of confirmed cases underreports the actual number, because testing is limited. People who likely have the virus but are suffering only mild or moderate symptoms are recovering at home and are generally not being tested. We should assume that COVID-19 is present in our local community and protect ourselves and our neighbors accordingly — simply by staying home and maintaining physical distance and hygiene protocols when required to go out. Recent guidelines indicate that wearing a cloth mask may provide some

benefit.

This is a time for calm, prudent precautions — and also concerted effort to prevent anxiety and fear from overtaking us.