Things have changed for all of us, in fact changed a lot. The crisis we saw from afar has come to our country and we are doing every thing we can to curb its impact based on the actions of others before us. COVID-19, aka coronavirus, has forced us to deal with life differently, probably in some ways we should have already been doing before this crisis. But there are also measures we are having to take to help curb the spread and lessen the impact on our nation, particularly the workforce and healthcare system. I thought I’d list some of what I’ve been doing and get some feedback from you as well.
To start with, the nature of the virus is what’s forcing us to take special precautionary measures. It’s highly communicable, as much as 3 times more than the flu. That means if you went into the office with the virus, you would probably infect almost everyone in your unit or team. Think about the last time someone came in with the flu. Even with the flu shot, some still come down with it.
That brings me to the next problem. There is no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. So the defense we rely on throughout flu season doesn’t exist for us. Even then, based on recent research a person can be asymptomatic for a few days before discovering he or she has the virus. Incubation periods can last up to 14 days or more. That puts us at greater risk if a person ventured out during that time. Finally, the virus can also linger on surfaces for up to 3 days based on recent research.
So, let’s move off the gloom and doom and talk about ways to prevent or curtail it. To start with, wash your hands … A LOT. Even though I knew this was it was a good practice, it wasn’t until I saw an article in the New York Times entitled “Why Soap Works” that it really made sense. I encourage you to read it and embrace the passion I now have in washing my hands. Not only do I wash my hands after the normal things like bathroom breaks, but I wash them when I come in from errands to keep the house as germ free as possible.
When out and about, look for all the sanitizer stations, particularly at stores. Know where they are. At Kroger, they are right by the carts at the entrance. Same with Walmart. I had to search a little at Target as they were not by the carts, but by the Customer Service desk. If you are going to eat somewhere, wash your hands when you go in and wash them when you leave. Ask the waiter to wipe down the menu for you. They have the cleaning solution and right now that’s not an inconvenience.
I noticed yesterday in Taco Bell all napkins, plastic cutlery, condiments, cup tops, and straws had been removed. They hand them to you know to avoid contact with other customers. Look for that and also look to see if they are wiping down the restaurant. We don’t have to completely hibernate during this time and it’s important to keep business going as everyone needs to be able to work. I did thank the employee who was wiping things down when I left and she really appreciated that.
So there’s another thing, be nice to everyone you see or meet. A little kindness among all of us will go a long way to helping us survive this and also reduce the anxiety. The employee and I bonded and from her reaction, it really helped out her day. She was beaming a big smile when I left. When you ask for something, ask for it nicely. We’re all doing the best we can during these times.
Back to wiping things down, something we now do in our house is start the day with a wipe or cleaning solution to wipe down every door handle, light switch, toilet seat, TV remote … anything we touch during the day. Be sure to wipe that mobile phone down also, probably multiple times a day. It’s the closest thing to your mouth other than maybe food. Doing this helps curb the spread of ANY germs, not just COVID-19. What can you use? Go back and read that NY Times article again if you want more info.
Personally, we can be friendly without touching each other. Hug from afar or do what my friend does, tell people “CYH” meaning “Consider Yourself Hugged.” Don’t shake hands, bump elbows. At the end of our recovery meetings, we don’t hold hands and touch feet instead. We also spread the chairs out a little bit. But we didn’t stop meeting. Recovery meetings are important at this time.
Also, take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise. Get plenty of sleep. If you do come down with the virus, you need to be healthy to help fight through the sickness. Also, take your temperature every morning. I have an electronic thermometer by my bedside and take my temperature every morning. That’s what screeners are doing for travelers and healthcare workers. Why should it be any different for you? Catching this quickly can help prevent others from being impacted.
That brings me to my final point. We need to be there for each other at this time. When you can meet in small meetings, take advantage of them with the precautions I mentioned. We need to take advantage of spiritual health also. Many churches are moving their services to online. Explore other faiths. One of my recent favorites was from my friend, Rabbi Barry Block of Temple B’Nai Israel in Little Rock.
There are many others I could mention, but I think you can see this doesn’t have to tear us down. Doing just a few little things can help us all and possibly help the nation. By doing these things, you can also help your own mental state by being constructive and fighting the fight against COVID-19.
It will help you cope.