LIFE IN THE TIME OF THE CORONAVIRUS
How do you begin writing something when you know that by the time you have finished the facts will have changed so dramatically as to render whatever has been written quaint and irrationally optimistic. Well, I am going to give it a try.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses that infect animals have become able to infect humans and then spread between people, but this is rare. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are examples of diseases caused by coronaviruses that originated in animals and spread to people. This is what is suspected to have happened with the virus that caused the current outbreak of COVID-19, named for when the coronavirus emerged in late December 2019.
The only thing constant in the world is change
- To give perspective, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, at noon, there were 4,226 total cases of COVID-19 and 75 total deaths. That is a 1.76% reported fatality rate.
- Today, Friday March 27, 2020 the virus has infected 553,244 people worldwide and the total number of deaths is 25,035. That is a 4.52% reported fatality rate.
- The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic on March 11, 2020 meaning there are multiple outbreaks in multiple parts of the world.
- Today, Monday, March 23, 2020 the coronavirus has affected nearly 200 countries and territories.
- Now the good news is that most cases are mild to moderate and they have not been counted because those individuals will not present themselves for testing.
- The bad news is that mild to moderate cases that don’t self-isolate and are more likely to spread the virus amongst themselves or transmit it to a person who is more vulnerable.
Everyone plays a part in the pandemic
- The most vulnerable appear to be people over the age of 80. Anyone over the age of 60 is at considerably greater risk than those who are under 60. Those individuals with co-morbidities, such as cancer, COPD, or immune deficiencies, are also at higher risk.
- The younger and healthier you are the less likely you are to experience serious symptoms. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that young people are out of the woods. Information out of France suggests that the use of certain anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) may be a risk factor for people who have no other risk factors.
What shouldn’t you do?
- MASKS, are generally not recommended that you wear a mask unless you are sick or may be exposed to this virus. They will not protect you and may actually increase your risk. Surgical style masks or N95 respirators used improperly will increase your risk of infection by providing a surface for viral particles to land. There they can remain infectious for up to 9 days where they can be inhaled by the wearer. Also, when you remove or replace a mask with your hand you can transfer viral particles from your hands to your face where they can enter the eyes, nose or mouth and cause sickness. So save the masks for the front line healthcare workers and first responders.
- RESPIRATORS such as the N95 respirators, are personal protective equipment intended to protect the wearer from viruses and are designed to fit very snuggly, drawing air through a filter that captures and prevents virus particles from being inhaled. Respirators are just one piece of personal protective equipment used by people on the front line to protect themselves from actual exposure. Walking the streets or braving a crowd with a surgical style mask isn’t going to provide meaningful protection against the virus. When worn properly respirators are tight but comfortable to wear and when you cover the inlet where the air comes in, the mask should be sucked tightly against your face. That is how you know you’ve got a good fit. COVID-19 is transmitted via droplets so if you are on the front line and a patient is coughing or sneezing, a mask alone isn’t going to protect you. You will also need something to protect your eyes and something to protect your clothing from becoming contaminated.
- DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE, specifically your mouth, nose, and eyes. Infections happens due to viral particles being transmitted from someone who is infected to a surface and then to the hand of a person who touches their hand to their face and becomes infected. This is a lower risk form of transmission but a difficult one to manage since for many of us, putting our hands to our face is second nature. Whether it’s rubbing your face during times of stress, or simply wiping your mouth these are hard habits to break. While most should avoid using masks unless they are sick if you have a habit of touching your face and find it difficult to stop, wearing a mask may be helpful for protecting your face.
What should you do?
As I mentioned earlier, this is a pandemic now. It can’t be eliminated. However, what we can do is reduce its impact or flatten the curve. If we can reduce or delay the number of cases the better our healthcare system will function meaning more people will be cared for and fewer people will die.
DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE, as the virus, small packets of information, are transmissible between people anytime they come in contact. COVID-19 is transmitted primarily by respiratory droplets spread when someone who is infected is coughing or sneezing. It can also be transmitted by transference when an infected person coughs or sneezes and the respiratory droplets land on a surface and are transferred to another person’s hands which can then touch the eyes, nose or mouth, causing them to become infected. As mentioned previously, don’t touch your face.
SOCIAL DISTANCING: So, how do we flatten the curve? The most effective way is by social distancing. Social distancing means increasing the physical distance between yourself and other people, to the greatest extent possible. The current scientific consensus is that this virus can be spread within 2 meters (6 feet) if somebody coughs. Otherwise, the droplets fall to the ground and don’t infect you. Unfortunately, we now know that the virus lives on surfaces, up to 9 days on different surfaces such as metal, ceramics, and plastics. That means things like doorknobs, tables, or elevator buttons can be a terrible source of the virus.
You can minimize exposure to others by staying home if you don’t feel well, have a cough or allergies. If you do cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with your elbow and use hand sanitizer or soap and water for 20 seconds to clean your hands. To learn more about cleaning and disinfecting households with suspected/confirmed coronavirus disease 2019, visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html?
Now it is not possible nor is it healthy for people to completely isolate themselves from others. Therefore it is important to act prudently, responsibly, and without panic. Get to know your housemates, introduce yourself to your neighbors, and get ready to hunker down. However, do this by maintaining social distancing. Keeping people home as much as possible, for as long as possible until this recedes. Social distancing is key because it slows the rate of spread allowing the healthcare system to keep up.
STAY HEALTHY since current statistics indicate that the seriousness of the COVID-19 infection increases with co-morbidities including a compromised immune response. Eating healthy and getting exercise helps to improve both our mental and physical well-being. Cannabis, specifically, cannabidiol (CBD) has been found to decrease inflammation, maintain proper immune response, and improve overall well-being, Read about cannabis and COVID-19 and how the endocannabinoid system helps to maintain homeostasis of our immune system. You can learn more about CBD products, such as Randy’s Remedy, and the endocannabinoid system at Randy’s Club.
YES — today the world is confronted with a pandemic. Yet, as my grandfather used to say, “the world is not coming to an end”. I believe this yet also know that we will not go back to life the way we knew it. There will be a new normal. My recommendation is to:
- gather facts not fears,
- be considerate of others and practice social distancing, and
- maintain your personal health and well-being.
So until this unprecedented crisis passes we must all remember that we are our brother’s keeper, we are our sister’s keeper, your health depends on the health of others, and to protect ourselves we must protect others. So please, for the sake of those who may get sick and those who may die, please stay home, as much as possible, practice social distancing, and wash your hands regularly.
We at Randy’s Club will be here through it all and will be there when life returns to what will surely be a new normal.