Staying Safe, Healthy, and Calm During the Coronavirus Outbreak
If you keep tabs on the news, you’ve likely heard about the woman in San Antonio who recently tested positive for the coronavirus. The virus (COVID-19) originated in Wuhan China, though it has spread to infect over 73,000 people around the world, including 91 cases in the U.S.
While news hitting this close to home may strike fear in some, we’re here to tell you that a few simple steps may keep you safe and healthy. The most important thing you can do is avoid panic and falling prey to sensationalization. Beyond that, following some simple tips can help keep you healthy from this virus along with other illnesses that can occur this time of year.
- Stay informed. If you’re reading this article, you’re off to a good start. Check in with the WHO website or your local public health authority to get the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak. While many outlets and people are spreading information, be sure you are getting facts from a reputable source.
- Wash your hands. Do it early and often and use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. This can kill viruses that may be present on your hands. This is also a good tip to avoid other illnesses like the flu.
- Cover your mouth with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This is known as good respiratory hygiene and can help protect the people around you from becoming infected with any viruses you may have, including COVID-19. Be sure to always cover your mouth and use tissue when sneezing or coughing. Dispose of used tissues right away and wash your hands.
- Maintain a safe distance from anyone around you who is coughing or sneezing. Keep at least 3 feet between yourself and anyone displaying these potential signs of illness. This can help you avoid coming into contact with the small liquid droplets that are emitted when a person coughs or sneezes, which may contain a virus. Maintaining a close proximity could result in breathing in of the droplets, which can infect you with COVID-19 or another virus that may be present.
- Don’t lose your cool over masks. There has been a lot of talk about the importance of wearing surgical masks; however, the CDC and other infectious disease specialists note that most of these masks are too loose to be effective at preventing inhalation of the virus. If you don’t have a mask, don’t worry. Simply maintain a safe distance between you and anyone who may be displaying symptoms of a virus.
- Stock up on basic supplies. You don’t need to go wild with this, but it’s not a bad idea to pick up any needed prescriptions and food staples. It can be helpful to have alcohol-based cleaning supplies on-hand as well.
- Make a family plan. Put together a checklist with important information about evacuations and supplies. Have a quick meeting to ensure the entire family is aware of emergency plans. Also check in with schools (if you have children) to get informed about potential schedule changes or other special instructions.
- Take a deep breath. Despite all of the media attention this virus is getting, the mortality rate actually hovers around 2%, though it may be even lower. It’s also worth noting that contracting the illness does not mean you will die. While the elderly and those with compromised immune systems face more serious complications, most who become infected do not become severely ill.
While it is good to be aware of what is happening with this virus, it also pays to take a break from sensationalized news reports. Practice common sense with the tips above and you should have a good chance of remaining healthy from all illnesses.
If you begin to feel ill, don’t panic. Simply call your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms and to see if any further steps are necessary. Just because you have symptoms of an illness does not necessarily mean you have the virus. Always check in with your doctor to be sure and to get the best care possible regardless of what you are experiencing.