Thoughts on the Coronavirus
With the spread of the Coronavirus (named COVID-19) in the news and changing seemingly by the minute I decided to devote this week’s post to the topic. People are understandably nervous. It can seem impossible at times to sort through the information, especially when one government official says one thing but then almost immediately is contradicted by another.
There are some facts and advice that, at least right now, public health and government officials agree on. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu, which especially hit younger and older people the hardest. At this point, the majority of deaths are to the elderly and other patients with underlying serious health conditions.
A concern is that seniors – including those in group living settings such as senior housing, nursing homes and assisted living facilities – are especially vulnerable because spreading the virus is much easier. We have certainly seen this on cruise ships. Much media attention has been placed on Washington State where the virus has spread among residents and workers at a Seattle area nursing home.
Many facilities here in New Jersey have cancelled industry networking events to limit the risk of visitors bringing the virus into their buildings. Notices appear on front entrances asking people not to visit if they have a fever or flu like symptoms. If the spread of the virus continues, we can certainly envision quarantines to protect residents and staff. Communication and accurate information – not always easy to obtain in the age of the internet – will be so important.
With that in mind, here is a list of suggestions that have been circulated by public health and government agencies and officials of how to keep your risk of infection low.
- Avoid shaking hands with others. Instead use a fist or elbow bump greeting.
- When leaving the bathroom don’t grab the handle with your hand. Instead use a paper towel.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after contact with a person or common surfaces where the virus may linger. Use soap and water for 10-20 seconds or 60% or more alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard it immediately. A second best alternative is to sneeze into your elbow but medical information now suggests the virus can linger on clothing for a week.
- Try to keep a distance from others. Suggestions vary from 3 to 6 feet.
The next few weeks and months will be nerve wracking as we wait to see how things develop and how our elected officials respond and guide us. In any public health crisis what we can all do is try to remain calm. For families who live a distance from aging loved ones, check in with them frequently to be sure they are OK.