If the crisis has not reached your community, you can still prepare.
If the crisis is in your community, be prepared for a second wave (let’s hope it doesn’t come)
So you can bury your head in the sand, ignore the facts and hope for the best…. This is unlikely to work. Certainly, the virus will not infect every man woman and child in the USA or for that matter, the world.
Your goal should be to prevent exposure, infection, and death or disability.
- Avoid exposure. If you hibernate until the pandemic passes, you almost can guarantee your safety. If you have daily responsibilities, this is not a viable option, but if things get bad, everyone will be doing this but late to the plan and hopefully not so late that they are already infected. You can see the future by looking at the past. Look at the epicenter. People were exposed, infected and hibernated. Businesses and schools closed, especially in the epicenter.
- Take precautions. Simple measures go a long way. Avoid exposure, frequently wash your hands. Wearing a mask is likely to have some impact. avoid crowded places or places likely to have infected people if possible (airports, hospitals, clinics).
- Get informed. Have supplies in case you have to stay home and get ahead of the rush to the grocery stores and gas stations. Be prepared to evacuate ahead of a wave of infection.
- Watch google trends. Watch the news. Follow best practices.Your goal should be to prevent exposure, infection, and death or disability.
- Before cooking or eating
- After using the bathroom
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
DON’T touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you have somehow come into contact with the virus, touching your face can help it enter your body.
DO learn the symptoms, which are similar to flu and may not emerge for 2-14 days after exposure (average 5 days):
- Shortness of breath
- anosmia (loss of sense of smell)
Most cases do not start with a runny nose.
Wear a mask even if you’re not sick. Masks help protect others from catching the virus. Wearing one when you’re healthy is a barrier and may help prevent exposure to the virus. The main rationale for not wearing a mask is to leave the masks for people who need them most, like the sick or health care professionals.
DO consider taking extra precautions and staying out of public places if you’re over 60 years old, or have a condition, as you have a higher risk of developing the disease. Note that as of now, the highest-risk groups appear to be seniors and people with preexisting conditions like heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.
DON’T assume young people won’t get gravely ill or even die. As of March 16, 38% of all hospitalizations were of people 20-to-54 years old.
DO assume you’ve been exposed, if you live in an area with a lot of community transmission. That’s what New Yorkers have been told.
DON’T travel if you have a fever. If you get sick on flight, tell crew immediately. When you get home, contact a health professional.
Dos and Don’ts When You Don’t Feel Well
DO seek help early if you have a fever, cough, and a hard time breathing. But don’t just drop into the nearest urgent care clinic. Call your doctor to find out the protocol first, to make sure you won’t spread the disease to others.
DON’T go out except to see your doctor, after calling first. And if you do have to go out, avoid public transportation, taxis, and ride-sharing.
DO cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or a tissue, and dispose of the tissue immediately in a covered bin. (You should be doing this whether or not you suspect COVID-19 — you don’t want to spread a common cold, either.)
DON’T hang out with your family or pets if you suspect you have the virus. In order to protect them, eat and sleep separately from them, try to stay in one room, and use a separate bathroom if possible. Yes, pets are included in the recommendations. The CDC says experts don’t know for sure whether pets can catch it. There was a tiger that tested positive.
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.
- New confusion or inability to arouse.
- Bluish lips or face.
DO make sure to clean frequently-touched surfaces properly. Studies suggest that coronaviruses can live on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. To reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19, wear disposable gloves to clean surfaces in shared spaces daily, including tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Use soap and water, followed by a disinfectant to kill the virus. Effective options include a bleach solution of 5 tablespoons per gallon/4 teaspoons per quart of water and solutions with at least 70% alcohol.
DON’T share household items like dishes and glasses — and definitely not bedding and towels. They should be washed thoroughly before being used again.
- They’ve been fever-free for 72 hours, without using medicine that reduces fever.
- Their other symptoms have improved – no more coughing or shortness of breath.
- It’s been at least 7 days since they first noticed symptoms.
Content largely abstracted from WebMD senior health writer Brenda Goodman