QUESTION: Where did coronavirus get its name? Who, what or where is corona?

ANSWER: The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says the word “corona” has been around since about the 1500s and comes from the Latin word “corona,” which is a “garland worn on the head as a mark of honor or emblem of majesty, halo around a celestial body, top part of an entablature.”

When we apply that name to a virus, it tells us what the virus looks like under a microscope that is awesome enough to capture these tiny troublemakers. There is more than one type of “coronavirus,” not just the one that’s wreaking havoc on our world.

“Coronaviruses derive their name from the fact that under electron microscopic examination, each virion is surrounded by a ‘corona,’ or halo,” the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. “This is due to the presence of viral spike peplomers emanating from each proteinaceous envelope.”

Whew. I had to look up a couple of those words. Peplomers are a scientific description of the spikes on the virus when seen under the microscope,

Q: There was a man missing from a group residence on Mobberly Avenue a few weeks ago. Has he been found or is he still missing? If anything was reported, I must have missed it.

A: I believe you’re talking about Scott Allen Blocker, 55, who was reported missing in mid-February. Yes, he was located a few days later.

Q: I hope I have missed it, but in articles about sending cheer mail to residence facilities, I have not read instructions about not licking the envelopes to seal them. Maybe more emphasis should be placed on this?

A: Hello, friend, and I can say that because I know who sent this question.

That’s not a bad suggestion. In fact, in Washington state, there was a campaign urging people not to lick their mail-in ballots during the primary earlier this month. (The state used the catchy phrase, “Whether healthy or sick, please don’t lick.”)

At the Answer Line home, we avoid that problem completely and use envelopes with a sticky surface covered by a flap that we pull off to seal the envelope.

Also, I think your question was prompted by a story the newspaper carried recently about a couple of efforts to get encouraging letters and pictures to seniors isolated in nursing and retirement homes during the COVID-19 scare. Buckner Retirement Services is leading one of those efforts locally, and that organization offered these words of assurance when it announced the program:

“According to the National Institutes of Health, COVID-19 can only live on a porous surface, such as cardboard or paper, for up to 24 hours. Therefore, Buckner communities will follow a strict safety procedure when receiving letters. Incoming mail will be isolated for a minimum of 48 hours before distribution. Receipt of the mail will be completely optional for residents.”

I think it’s good, though, to add as many layers of protection as possible, so thanks for offering that reminder.

And, as long as we’re talking about it, here are the addresses where you can send cards, letters and pictures — no packages, though — to make sure all our seniors in nursing homes and assisted living centers know they’re not forgotten:

Inspiring Happiness; c/o Buckner Westminster Place; 2201 Horseshoe Lane; Longview, TX 75605; and The Hospice of East Texas; 101 W. Hawkins Parkway, Suite 7; Longview, TX 75605.

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.