EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CORONAVIRUS (AND MORE):
Scientific facts, personal opinions, economic implications, credible resources (and a few comedic memes too good not to share).
It seems that the entire world is currently gripped in the confines of fear due to the Coronavirus, a viral respiratory disease that seems to be spreading rapidly as the death tolls around the world continue to rise. As a healthcare professional working at one of the largest hospitals in the nation, I do not underestimate the seriousness of this infection and I do urge everyone to take proper precautions and safety measures when it comes to their health and the health of those around them.
However, I firmly believe in the power of understanding facts that are rooted in science and backed by research, rather than being blinded by fear and acting irrationally. So let us focus on the facts first, and educate ourselves before falling prey to the scare portrayed by the media and causing a pandemic worse than the outbreak itself: Fear.
At the beginning of this year, a new strain of the virus SARS-CoV-2, the Coronavirus (COVID-19), was first detected in the Chinese Wuhan municipality, likely derived from an animal source. Its exact origins, cause and treatments are still unclear, and this strain has not been previously identified in humans, which is why it has been declared a public health emergency at a global level. Currently there are no vaccinations for the Coronavirus, but the Center for Disease Control and other public health officials are in the process of gaining a deeper understanding of the virus including prevention and treatment.
What we do know about the Coronavirus is that its source of transmission is from person-to-person via airborne droplets or from close contact, and those who are affected may spread this disease to others if exposed. Although it is not widespread within the United States at this time, there have been over 100,000 cases reported in over 100 locations internationally with the death toll currently at over 4,500, primarily in elder, immunocompromised adults over the age of 50. It is our social responsibility to educate ourselves on these facts rather than allowing fear to dictate our beliefs.
Taking into account all the information out there, one thing is for sure: The virus itself is not the primary issue. The lack of understanding of and resources for detection and treatment, along with fear and ignorance that leads to healthy carriers exposing those who are more at risk, is. That being said, how can you do your part to prevent the risk of infection and posing threat to others who are immunocompromised, such as children, the elderly, or those with weakened immune systems such as cancer patients?
“Protect yourself so you can protect others.”
There are 3 main steps you can and should be taking at this time:
- Know the facts and educate yourself on signs and symptoms of Coronavirus so you can recognize it early, differentiate it from other viruses such as influenza, and implement proper precautions in a timely manner. If you do happen to get sick, call your doctor immediately.
“Symptoms of Influenza vs. Coronavirus”
- WASH YOUR HANDS for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer with an alcohol content over at least 60%. Perhaps the only good thing that has come out of this chaos is that the public is finally using proper hygiene (which apparently had not been already happening all along…but better late than never).
“How To Master The 20 Second Hand Wash”
- Protect yourself and others by avoiding close contact with those who are sick, staying home or wearing a face mask if you are sick, avoiding traveling to high-risk areas, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the inside of your elbow, refraining from touching your face, and keeping your environment clean by disinfecting frequently.
Now that the basic facts are out of the way, here are my opinions on what NOT to do, as a basic courtesy of being a kind human being:
- DON’T be ignorant. Ignorance breeds fear, which is at the root of every irrational action people are taking simply because they are scared. If you think that vaccines cause autism and therefore have not taken the flu shot, or still do not realize how much more likely you are to die from the flu, then how likely will you even be to take the Coronavirus vaccine if and when it becomes available? You are much more likely to die of Influenza than you are of even being exposed to Coronavirus.
“Coronavirus death toll vs. Influenza death toll”
- DON’T be racist. Did you ever hear of the Chinese man who died because nobody would stop to help him due to fear of the Coronavirus? That was most likely only one of many instances in which our fear overruled our humanity. Use your common sense and realize that viral infections are not based on race, which is another tragic result of ignorance and fear, which leads to more anger and fear, causing conflict and mental health issues. Kindness and compassion is the most important thing that can overcome the state of panic we are currently facing.
“Stigma And Resilience”
- DON’T be a hoarder. When you, a healthy young adult, take all of the hand sanitizers, face masks, water and toilet paper (?), you are not leaving adequate supply for those who really need it, such as healthcare workers and people who are actually sick. Wearing a mask will not benefit those who are not sick, but when a sick person is able to wear their face mask, it will protect you as well as others.
“Comic: Who Should Wear A Face Mask?”
In addition, the most basic action you can take is to stay healthy and build a strong immune system by getting adequate rest, hydration, nutrition, exercise and stress management. In fact, these are the most underrated, highest attributing causes of major illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. When an individual is in stress, the release of stress hormones such as cortisone shuts down the body’s immune system to conserve energy for running away from the perceived stressor, making it more likely for the individual to become infected.
This is honestly why the most concerning thing to me, much more than the actual Coronavirus or being unable to purchase toilet paper (still don’t understand why?), is the reaction of my fellow human beings during a crisis situation such as the one we are currently faced with. How easy it is for someone who claims to be a figure of authority to make a completely unjustified claim, and how quickly people believe tend to believe whatever they are told rather than opening their minds and utilizing common sense rather than making irrational decisions based out of fear – that is my real fear.
For further understanding on how the fear of the coronavirus can be potentially more deadly than the virus itself, check out “The Biology of Belief” by Dr. Bruce Lipton and his various research connecting science and spirit.
The Coronavirus scare also has several implications on our economy as a whole. In light of the chaos ensued via panic surrounding this epidemic, the City of Houston has now officially declared a state of emergency. Even at a national level, many major public events such as the Houston rodeo, concerts and music festivals, and national conferences have been cancelled, and travel to high-risk areas is highly discouraged.
Under normal circumstances, these events generate billions of dollars in revenue, allowing the economy to flourish. Due to the cancellations, corporations are losing business and the stock market is undergoing the worst performance since the crisis in 2008. Throw in the fact that we have literally millions who are probably showing up to work rather than going to the doctor because they are uninsured, and we’ve got ourselves some very serious problems.
In fact, 44 million Americans have no health insurance and 34 million American workers have no access to paid sick leave. For those who are living paycheck to paycheck, shutting down jobs and schools can even mean they have no place from which to gain meals and shelter. This increase in illness due to lack of insurance, along with the rise in the homeless population, is doing just as much harm to our economy as our government, who failed to take adequate measures despite various warnings from the CDC.
[Side note: At least the our work gym is closed, giving me an excuse to skip my workout, and least the flight tickets are cheap, as long as you don’t fly to places with high risk of Coronavirus or take advantage of the $500 7-day Disney cruise]. On a more serious note, if you would like to learn more about the economic impact of Coronavirus (in chart form), check out the article from BBC below:
“How Coronavirus Has Shaken The Economy”
As long as you are aware of the facts before forming an opinion, and educating yourself on how to take proper precautionary measures, you can relax a bit and not let the media distract you from the various other serious issues and events currently happening around the world.
For more facts and answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the latest Coronavirus updates, please visit CDC.gov and let me know your thoughts on how our society is handling the situation.
“Education always trumps ignorance and blind fear.”
Be safe and be smart. Meanwhile, check out these memes I’ve come across over the past few weeks, as promised, too good not to share.
This Friday the 13th, in the year 2020, the entire world has shut down. Whole countries and airports, jobs and schools, all major events, conferences, venues and places of worship, and all major businesses including Disneyworld and Netflix, and pretty much everything aside from grocery stores and hospitals are closed for quarantine for at least the next few weeks until further notice. I’ve never witnessed anything like it during my lifetime and after being unable to find water (or toilet paper??) last night, I am definitely starting to better understand the fear surrounding this pandemic.
However, I still have a firm belief that as long we do our part to take the recommended safety precautions and remain patient and kind to our fellow human beings who need us more now than ever, I have faith that everything will be okay. Always, always, always, no matter what: Faith above all else, love and compassion as a priority, and trying our best but not worrying about the rest. I understand that things will get worse before they get better, and for that we should all take the necessary precautions. For now, I am making the most of this weekend with my loved ones, before I have to go back to work for the sake of my patients on Monday.
And, I continue to marvel at the never-ending COVID-19 memes across all of my social media platforms.