Blaming the novel coronavirus panic on the media in general is inaccurate.

This mass panic is caused by a combination of people spreading misinformation among friends and family, the hyperbole in national news organizations and rash government decisions.

The media is not solely responsible for the public’s reaction to facts. This is a people problem, not a media problem.

Be accurate when blaming an organization for the reactions of Americans.

Identify what makes a news source accurate and trustworthy.

This spread of misinformation has always been a concern among journalists, but now more than ever, we are seeing the direct effects of it. Spreading misinformation, gossip or “I think” statements about COVID-19 is dangerous.

Read and share our coverage — or that from other trustworthy sources — concerning the virus and educate yourself on appropriate precautions based on your situation. The Observer will continue to serve its community, but help us help you.

The Observer has been working to provide unexaggerated facts and statements from experts about the outbreak.

But people have to pay attention to their local news sources for this to work.

We’ve covered appropriate precautions for the mass public. Not once have we advised buying all the toilet paper under the sun.

Desperate times can bring out the worst in people. This is the time for Rio Rancho to bring out the best in one another.

When talking about COVID-19, state where you learned what you are about to say. If the answer is going to be “through the grapevine,” refrain from sharing that information and check with official sources before you accept it yourself.

The Observer reported caution; this can be a serious virus, particularly for elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions. This information is commonly shared in articles concerning COVID-19.

People should be aware of their individual situations and act accordingly.

Don’t let your preconceived notions be the judge of the value of any article, but consider the reliability of the organization and sources quoted.

Many local news organizations have taken their paywalls down to grant more access. We’ve never had a paywall for our individual online stories, only for our e-edition, and we’re sharing our COVID-19 reporting as free, individual stories online.

Just as it is important to wash your hands, it is important to stay connected with local news.

This is a benefit not every community has. The Observer and our partners at the Albuquerque Journal have compiled information concerning COVID-19 for readers to stay in the know about what is happening in their community.

It is not time-consuming to check the Observer and Journal and read a few articles.

In our March 8 edition, Argen Duncan wrote an article about COVID-19. Her article and other updates about the virus are available on the Observer website.

Within Duncan’s article, she wrote about important precautions:

• Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds,

• Avoid close contact with those experiencing illness,

• Keep your hands away from the eyes, nose and mouth,

• If you are experiencing symptoms, stay home except to get medical care,

• Clean frequently touched surfaces, and

• Cover your coughs and sneezes.

We see our community come together to help each other time and time again.

We believe in Rio Rancho’s ability to help a neighbor and bring out the best in the worst of times.