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By: Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service – KY

LEXINGTON, Ky. — As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, so does anxiety. Health professionals say social distancing, frequent hand washing for 20 seconds with hot, soapy water, and staying at home if you feel sick are especially critical to protecting the state’s vulnerable populations.

But Marcie Timmerman, executive director at Mental Health America of Kentucky, said it’s also important to find healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety, including deep breathing and meditation.

“There’s also a cognitive behavioral therapy trick that I use personally, whenever my mind starts to get wrapped up in all the what-ifs, what could happen, I visualize a stop sign in my head,” Timmerman said.

Timmerman pointed out that social media can feed hysteria, worry, and misinformation.

“Make sure you’re limiting your time on social media if it’s starting to stress you out,” he said. “Also, make sure you’re following places of good sources of information.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults and people with serious medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease seem to be at higher risk for COVID-19 illness.