I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about Covid-19, the coronavirus. This isn’t about statistics or projections – it’s about helping you stay educated and protecting those who are most vulnerable.
All the below information is gathered from the most reliable sources I could find: CDC, WHO, Cedar-Sinai, MedlinePlus, Merckmanual and a few others.
WHERE TO FIND INFORMATION
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html – the CDC’s Coronavirus page – scroll down to the What You Should Know section
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 – the World Health Organization
https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/accreditation/departments.html – You can find YOUR STATE’S Department of Health here
https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus#item-214587 – US government Travel Advisories
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE
As per the CDC….
Know where to find local information (see above, Where to Find information)
You should make sure to have supplies on hand
- Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time. [You might also find success by speaking to your local pharmacist]
- If you cannot get extra medications, consider using mail-order for medications.
- Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
- Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
Take everyday precautions
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Take everyday preventive actions
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
[BTW, If you can’t find hand sanitizer, using alcohol that is at least 120 proof, which is 60% alcohol, might suffice]
- Don’t touch stuff! Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
- If you do touch surfaces in public places, wash your hands after.
- Don’t touch your face, nose, eyes, etc. [Maybe don’t touch other people’s faces either – just saying]
- Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
- Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
- Don’t travel, including plane trips, and especially [for goodness sake] avoid embarking on cruise ships.
- Stay home as much as possible.
- Consider ways of getting food brought to your house through family, social, or commercial networks [I use Fresh Direct for example, or you could contact Meals on Wheels or similar].
Have a plan for if you get sick:
- Consult with your health care provider for more information about monitoring your health for symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
- Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors, community health workers, etc. if you become sick.
- Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick
WHO IS AT HIGHEST RISK?
People with certain disabilities: Some disabilities increase the risk of flu-like diseases like pneumonia. Some cause immunodeficiency. – CDC
The Elderly: As people age, the immune system becomes less effective. For instance, seniors produce fewer T Cells – the cells that recognize and fight abnormal cells. – Merckmanual
The Under Nourished: A deficiency in essential nutrients, calcium and zinc in particular, harm the immune system.
Autoimmune Disorders: Autoimmune disorders may develop in someone with immunodeficiency before the immunodeficiency shows symptoms.
People in long term care facilities: relative immobility and close quarters make nursing homes and the like more susceptible.
People who have serious chronic medical conditions: Like heart or lung disease, Diabetes, etc.
HOW CAN YOU HELP THOSE PEOPLE AT HIGHER RISK?
- Know what medications they take and how they take them
- Make sure there are sufficient medical supplies on hand (oxygen, dialysis, wound care, incontinence care, etc.)
- Keep their pantry stocked, including with non-perishable items
- KEEP IN TOUCH – call, text, keep them in mind
- Share information like this, about how to reduce the risk of infection
HOAXES AND MYTHS
As usual, during emergencies there can be lots of bad information – [clearing my throat – ‘Facebook’]. I found a good article in Mother Jones that I recommend. It debunked several pieces of bad information.
Myths about Coronavirus:
- Sneezes can travel 10 feet – Not quite; the conventional belief is 6 feet
- A warm day kills the virus – Who determines what a warm day is? Sunlight (ultraviolet light) and heat, like a laundry dryer, are good disinfectants.
- Drinking warm water, not cold – No.
- Make sure your mouth and throat are moist – Lots of reasons to stay hydrated but, nope.
- Hot and humid areas won’t transmit the virus – Not true. W.H.O. says ALL AREAS are susceptible.
- Hot baths prevent the virus – Hot baths are great but can’t protect you from the virus.
- Hand dryers kill the virus – Hand dryers DO NOT kill the virus.
- Eating garlic prevents infection – No, but it might keep people at a safe distance so….
Stay safe out there folks. Do the smart things to reduce the risk of infection. This too shall pass.
Jim Sliney Jr. is a Registered Medical Assistant and a Columbia University trained Writer/Editor. He creates education and advocacy materials for patient support groups and has worked closely with several rare disease communities. Jim also coordinates the patient content for PatientsRising and loves collaborating with other writers. Jim is a native New Yorker where he lives with his wife, his niece and all their cats. Special skills: beard maintenance / pizza Twitter Email