CoVid-19 A Reality Check
Deadly Virus?- Yes__ End of Times?-Not Quite
–Sharon K. Lobb, MA Owner/CEO Primed! LLC 3/23/2020
The news surrounding the 2020 Worldwide Pandemic otherwise known as Corona Virus or CoVid-19 is alarming and it well should be in that this is a deadly viral outbreak on a global scale. The reactions of government officials at all levels and in all countries will be reviewed for many years to come but for now, most are reasonable given the information we have today. Following your local government decries are critical to the survival of not only ourselves but for others around the world. Limiting exposure to CoVid-19 not only saves lives in the short term, it allows the virus’ progression and mutation to slow enough to allow the thousands working on a vaccine, treatment or cure the time needed to develop the safest and most effective answer to this global problem.
What is not reasonable are the extreme behaviors exhibited by some (this article will be limited to the United States). Do we really need a year’s worth of toilet paper? As of what we know right now, I dare say not. However, should we be dusting off our family emergency preparedness plans and topping off our preparedness kits for a shelter-in-place scenario-YES! In the United States, millions of people are shopping the store shelves bare out of fear and a lack of preparedness rather than with precision and social responsibility. Shelves are bare because some took from others (legally or not). The “survival of the fittest”, “you snooze, you lose” and “me and mine first” reactions are typical self-preservation but I dare say, not socially responsible. This irresponsible behavior has left healthcare workers and first responders poorly equipped to be on the frontlines of this disaster. A shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as respirators (N-95s, P-100s, PAPRs and the like), gloves, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants have put lives at risk. This shortage has been caused by fear mongering and a lack of consistent messaging and regulation by the government. Moreover, the problem is created by our need to not be uncomfortable. Let me ask, was your cart full of truly essential items (no, I am not referring to your chips, cookies and bulk purchases of toilet paper) but more importantly did you buy items you truly needed to follow the direction of your local public health and government officials? Were you part of the solution or part of the current problem of shortages?
Do you have a viable plan for sheltering in place (movement restricted to your homes, apartment, etc.)? We are a consumer driven society now that is dependent on technology and our survival skills have suffered. Let me ask, can you even cook for yourself and your loved ones? Many in the U.S. are dependent on schools and restaurants for their daily food. We have become dependent on prepared foods and bottled water—but do we want or do we need these items? There are some people that truly need help getting food but people who want and not need this valuable resource, are taking away from those who have a true need.
Could we not survive for the short-term on “staples”? Can your children play using their imaginations and creative minds rather than depending on electronics to entertain them? Do you have a solid plan for your pets to shelter in place? If your answer is no, please look further into this blog site for free resources and links to pre-fabricated plans that will help you quickly catch up and be more prepared in the future.
SARS, MERS and H1N1 outbreaks of the past decade taught Emergency Managers and Public Health Officials a lot. Those lessons learned have been developed into the very well prepared CoVid-19 response we see today. Yes, there will be plenty to critique later, but we are indeed better prepared for this type of disaster than we have been in the past. We are better at tracking the spread of the virus, sharing research and even owning/sharing mistakes made in the early responses to the outbreak. This unprecedented sharing of CoVid-19 research and resources is a game changer. Initial responses to the disaster have later proven effective or ineffective and that information has saved valuable time and resources for the countries yet to receive the full brunt of the wave of infections yet to come. The current preparedness level is higher than it was during the onset of the viral outbreak.
Staggering statistics are being quoted by trusted leaders without the context in which they come from. That said, no death is trivial regardless of the next few sentences. Your trusted leaders are leading press conferences with the staggering number of deaths to get your attention and compliance and you should comply with all local and national directives and guidance to do your part as a responsible citizen. However, when you look at the total data from reputable public health experts ( see John Hopkins University interactive real-time map-https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html) the numbers are still scary but in context they are not as alarming as many would have you believe-see the chart below:
|“Numbers of confirmed case is up by “x”%)||CoVid-19 Testing is now widely available and if you had no or fewer cases on Mar 1, 2020 then of course the number is up. This is not a decisive use of the statistic and can be misleading.|
|“Millions may die”||There are some experts that initially gave very dire predictions but that was based on our normal behaviors and not whole countries sheltering in place and travel bans enforced. Those “extreme measures” have brought predictions much lower. The reality is that significant numbers of people are recovering from CoVid-19 and proportionally the number of deaths is low in comparison with the numbers infected.|
|“This social distancing will go on indefinitely”||The southern hemisphere has been in summer and early fall and has a significantly reduced number of cases, most of which is attributed to travel elsewhere. As the seasons change it is predicted that the Northern hemisphere will experience a lessening in number and severity of cases and the Southern hemisphere will see the virus spread. That said see the next reality check.|
|It will be a very long time before it is safe again.||Were we ever safe? There is no longer a local outbreak scenario that does not have the potential for a global pandemic. The ability to freely travel brings the world closer but the containment of outbreaks is nearly impossible. Vaccines and potential cures are being tested as this is being written. Microbiologist around the world are working with unprecedented speed and resources. It is a matter of time before the virus has met its match. The hope is that the virus does not mutate much before a vaccine/cure is tested and approved.|
|“You will be confined to your home for an extended period of time”||While in some very hard hit areas where the social distancing is a challenge (think more populated areas), this may be true for a period of time. The rest of us can go for a walk, hike, bike ride or just sit outside. Just keep a distance from others (recommended at least 6 feet). Fresh air inside the home will also help the overall indoor air quality.|
|“Supplies will dwindle and we will have to without”||This is only a reality if people panic. Yes, some high demand items will not be available but most items will become available as the demand from those who previously panicked or overstocked will be replenished. There will be a long delay in production of new goods due to the social distancing and work shutdowns so everyone should share and conserve. Together, resources can be better utilized. Do not buy items from individuals who stockpiled in hopes of making a profit. It is illegal to price gouge during an emergency and many a State’s Attorney is busy prosecuting.|
In the time of a disaster, each person is expected to be prepared and to act not only in their best interest but in the interest of others. Does this expectation get met in the U.S.?
- Some people are over reacting to alarming predictions and rumors or planning to price gouge and neither is socially responsible.
- Some people are insisting on traveling often around policies in place to prevent the spread of the virus (e.g. If leaving a country or area in quarantine and traveling to another country or area not blocking your entry to get into your destination country/area that has blocked all travelers from your country/area of origin). Much of the spread of this outbreak can be directly attributed to traveling. Not all infected travelers knew that they were carriers of Corona Virus (CoVid-19) prior to traveling, others may have traveled to destinations known to have better healthcare capabilities.
- Some people feel invincible (based on age and early reports that the elderly were being hardest hit by CoVid-19 or remote locals not already experiencing an outbreak) and violate calls to social distance and shelter-in-place. In fact, the shelter-in-place extreme measures are required to prevent those who are not socially responsible from infecting and potentially killing others.
- Some schools closed in an effort to comply with social distancing recommendations but did so late in the outbreak cycle thereby forcing students and faculty to travel during peak outbreak activity, further limiting health officials’ attempts to contain the virus
- Some laws in the U.S. and that govern U.S. citizens traveling abroad prevent health officials from quickly sequestering those at highest risk of viral transmission of CoVid-19 from traveling or moving about freely amongst the non-infected population.
- Some people chose not to get a flu shot. The flu shot is not effective against the Corona Virus but early data shows that this virus’ effects may be lessened in those who have had the annual flu shot. This was true of many of the other outbreaks that were not related to the seasonal flu.
- Some people chose to travel to be with family members during this time of crisis and uncertainty. This human instinct may have put their family in jeopardy as they unwittingly moved the virus from one location to another exposing everyone they came in close contact with throughout their journey.
- Some employers denied paid sick leave to those affected by CoVid-19 which led to people working sick to prevent losing their jobs/income. The effects are compounded exponentially in the service and healthcare industries.
- The most vulnerable were not adequately protected until nursing home outbreaks and medically fragile people became infected and unfortunately a great many died before the focus of efforts was shifted.
- Some government agencies have so much bureaucracy that tests, vaccines, and cures are delayed instead of “fast tracked”
Okay Corona Virsus/CoVid-19 is here, now how can we be part of the solution?
- Follow the direction of public health officials and your local area government
- Keep calm but act deliberately to follow official recommendations and positively influence others to do the same.
- Take standard flu-like precautions– wash hands, sanitize frequently touched surfaces, keep social distances, avoid pharmacy, dentist and doctor’s offices unless you are ill-reschedule your routine appointments to allow those who need an appointment better access. Get plenty of rest and exercise. Go outside if you can, if not open the windows when possible and get fresh air flowing through your home/office.
- Keep hands away from your face
- Do not pay higher than usual prices for goods and services-it encourages bad behavior and hoarding of valuable resources.
- Volunteer to look in on those more vulnerable or socially isolated by calling, texting or meeting through electronic means. Host a virtual party. Share resources to limit the physical and emotional suffering.
- Use electronics during off peak hours so that those trying to work from home can use the limited bandwidth. Streaming TV, music and games should be done on off peak hours whenever possible.
- Get your information from trusted sources and share only facts and not rumors about this scary topic. Well-intentioned people with bad information are the most harmful in that they are trusted implicitly and decisions will then be made based on the misinformation. This rumor mill is very challenging for gov’t officials to overcome and garner the public’s trust.
- Shop local when you shop. Get delivery or curb pick up where possible. You protect the workers as well as yourself.
- Cash is dirty and handled by many—pay online or swipe the card yourself. In other disasters, “cash is King”. Pandemics are very different on many levels.
- In order for disinfectants to be effective, they must remain on surfaces for at least a minute or so before wiping it off. Hand sanitizer should be slowly massaged into hands and allowed to air dry. Rutgers University is indicating that Vinegar and some essential oils are not effective. https://www.rutgers.edu/news/best-ways-kill-coronavirus-your-home