Welcome to Belfast

A press advisory Monday that the governor would be in town for a “major economic development announcement,” followed by a smattering of details about a City Council executive session involving three unknown individuals and two agreements, had us guessing.

The announcement, when it came Tuesday morning, did not disappoint. News that a Norwegian firm plans to establish one of the world’s largest salmon farms in Belfast certainly comes as a welcome boost during this dreary winter season, and we’re curious to learn more as plans unfold.

The business itself appears to be a great fit for the area, and we commend city officials for their considerable efforts to accommodate the unique needs of this new enterprise.

Down with the sickness

Unless you're living under a rock, you already know flu season is in full swing. And, you know you should be washing your hands regularly, coughing or sneezing into your elbow to slow the spread of germs, and to stay home from school, work and public spaces if you are sick.

According to a Jan. 20 report issued by the Center for Disease Control (or CDC), the most heavily hit areas of the state when it comes to influenza this winter are Cumberland, Penobscot and York counties. But that doesn't mean Waldo County residents are safe.

The CDC recommends everyone older than 6 months be vaccinated against the flu. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February and can last as late as May.

The flu vaccine for the 2017-2018 season is widely available. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for it to take full effect. The flu vaccine contains three or four flu viruses (depending on the type of vaccine you receive) so that even when there is a less than ideal match or lower effectiveness against one virus, the flu vaccine may protect against the other flu viruses. To find a flu clinic, search your ZIP code on flushot.healthmap.org or cdc.gov/flu or search the listings on 211maine.org.

Additionally, some of the things we touch often should be cleaned or possibly replaced to prevent the spread of germs — like cell phones and toothbrushes, respectively.

According to the American Dental Association, good dental hygiene is important when sick, as the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours.

You probably don’t need to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick, according to the ADA. Unless your immune system is severely compromised, the chances of reinfecting yourself are very low, the ADA says. The organization also recommends sugar-free cough drops as a better alternative; rinsing after vomiting; and staying hydrated — water is best — to prevent dry mouth, which can lead to cavities.

The average smartphone has 10 times more bacteria on it than most toilet seats according to Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist. Bacteria can linger on a device and have the potential to make users ill, especially when sharing electronics with someone else who has recently been sick.

U.S. Cellular offers the following tips to disinfect Apple and Android devices:

Disinfect devices and cases regularly. Use a disinfectant wipe that does not contain bleach and wring the wipe out several times before use to minimize moisture on and near the device. After using the disinfectant wipe, follow up with a microfiber cloth. Or you can use specialized cleaners made for electronics, such as Gadget Guard Greener Cleaner, which is available through online retailers and some local stores. This cleaning should be done routinely, according to the cell phone company, especially if other people have handled them or if anyone in the family has been sick.

The most stubborn areas to clean are the device’s headphone jack, charging port, speaker and microphone openings. Don’t use a toothpick or Q-tip to clean these small spaces, since they can damage circuitry and/or leave behind cotton fibers, U.S. Cellular recommends. Instead, use antibiotic putty designed specifically for electronics, such as Cyber Clean, also available through online retailers and some local stores.

Lastly, don’t use devices in the bathroom. (Seriously, people.) In a survey from Inc.com, 61 percent of people admitted to using their phone while in the restroom. The habit of “toilet texting” can cause users to become ill, as germs from the bathroom can wind up on the phone.