At this point, Coronavirus needs no introduction… and it isn’t going anywhere for a while. In fact, scientists warn we are at the very beginning of this pandemic. It is not only disrupting lives and introducing new verbiage and concepts like “social distancing” into our everyday vernacular, but Covid-19 is also proving itself to be more intense than “just the flu”.
That’s a lot of scary terminology, but DON’T PANIC. We will get through this.
Please remember this situation is very fluid and new information (sometimes erroneous) is constantly presenting itself. Everything here is as current as possible as of Tuesday, March 17.
Everything is canceled. Really. Sports seasons have all been canceled or postponed. Disney has closed it’s parks. Concerts are postponed or outright cancelled. All for good reason: The CDC guidelines, as announced yesterday by President Trump, say to AVOID ALL SOCIAL GATHERINGS OF 10 OR MORE PEOPLE.
10 people isn’t that many. That’s every concert, sporting event, corporate lunch, school, church, synagogue, and Chick-Fil-A in the country. In other words: Please stay home.
So why are we taking these extreme steps when there are currently fewer than 100 deaths from Corona? Isn’t this premature?
In a word: No.
While the greatest direct risk is to people over 70 and those with other medical conditions, that’s not the bigger problem. The BIG problem is capacity. Hopefully you’ve seen a graph like the one below…
The most dangerous element of that graph is the horizontal dotted line that says “Health-care system capacity.” If hospitals are completely filled with Coronavirus patients, what happens when you’re in a car wreck? Or have a heart attack? And that’s to say nothing of the people fighting Corona that can’t get into a hospital. That dotted line is REALLY important. That line is why the CDC is taking such extreme steps.
By avoiding crowds and isolating ourselves, we can dramatically reduce the height of that curve.
Obviously, that doesn’t mean you can go grocery shopping or grab a salad at the place down the street. What it does mean is this:
- Only go when absolutely necessary.
- Use delivery services if available.
- Use curb-side delivery if available.
- Go at odd hours when crowds are smaller.
- WASH YOUR HANDS!
What about interactions with people I NEED to be around? That’s where “social distancing” comes in.
The reason that this particular tactic is vital in curbing Covid-19’s reach is that “In terms of social distancing, it’s important to understand how this virus is transmitted,” says Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic. “It’s transmitted through respiratory droplets generated when someone infected coughs or sneezes. We know that these droplets extend about 3 to 6 feet from the person that generates them. If you breathe in the droplets, or they land on your eyes, nose, or mouth then you are at risk of getting infected.”
By taking the steps to self-quarantine, we remove the risk of us either getting infected or infecting others. This is so important because it leaves room for those who are very sick and need immediate medical attention. We really, REALLY want to avoid overcrowding hospitals if at all possible. Italy is a cautionary tale.
The bottom line is that for those of us who are healthy and for those who don’t feel sick, we have a responsibility to look out for the elderly and those who may have compromised immune systems. We can fight this on their behalf, giving them every opportunity at best, to stay healthy, and at worst, to get proper and immediate care. We need to be mindful and work for each other, not against each other.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: DON’T PANIC! That won’t help anyone anywhere do anything useful or beneficial. Instead, make sure you’re healthy, keep using common sense, check on your family members and friends, and for goodness sake, leave some toilet paper for the next guy!