The COVID-19 coronavirus is on all of our minds, and for a good reason. We are living through a global pandemic, and there’s much we still don’t know, and with that uncertainty comes fear. Even though many of us are vaccinated, it remains a complex and fast-moving situation with the omicron variant. Given this, we want to share some essential understandings that we hope will be useful.
A common-sense approach to COVID-19
We don’t know how this event will play out, but there are some facts to know and some basic steps you can take, regardless of the spread of the latest variant.
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First off, and this is important: social distancing and quarantine efforts are as much (or more) about slowing the spread of COVID-19 as stopping it. Sure, stopping it is ideal, but the COVID-19 is widespread, and we want to do all we can to slow transmission.
Why? Because slowing the pace of the disease buys time for our personal and civic response systems to prepare, it lets us work on developing improved vaccines. But, most importantly, it spreads out the number of patients over a longer time, lessening the strain on our healthcare systems.
Understanding the critical importance of slowing the spread of COVID-19 is essential to comprehending and hopefully supporting the current and future public health responses. For example, if at some point there is a need to close schools, limit public gatherings, or restrict travel, it will be done with the ultimate goal of saving lives. And not just a few lives, but a large number of people’s lives may depend on the government’s ability to implement these complex decisions successfully.
We think being thoughtful, considered, rational, and engaged is the right approach. Things are likely less terrible than they seem on the front page, but at the same time, there is certainly reason for concern. Finding a common-sense middle ground between anxiety and denial is the goal that enables everyone to act with a practical purpose.
With that in mind, we want to share some specific best practices to focus your attention on.
Have supplies on hand to last a few weeks without needing to leave your house. There’s no need for panic buying or doing it all at once. Just start to build up your supplies. Start with two weeks, but aim for a month. If you can build up your cache of essential medications, do so.
If you haven’t gotten your COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot, now is the time to do so. Getting a vaccine and booster protects you, those around you who are most vulnerable, and reduces the burden on the health care system at a time when we are gearing up to prepare for significant demands on an already stretched network.
Hand-washing doesn’t guarantee immunity. But it’s easy, it’s under your control, and it has no significant downside. Also, focus on not touching your face. We know it is hard for kids, but practice making it a game. Give your kids a quarter every time they catch you doing it. Whatever it takes.
Think a bit about how you will care for children who have to stay home due to possible school closures. Do you have family, neighbors, or other options for childcare? Resist the temptation to assemble kids in larger groups informally. That’s an understandable solution, but in the end, it defeats the purpose of the closure.
If you manage a business or organization, think through how you can support your staff working remotely. Consider what steps you should take to prepare for employee absences or loss of customers. Start to think about how you can continue to operate your business while minimizing social contact. There aren’t always answers for every business, but sometimes there are, and those are critical to identifying ahead of time.
If you are sick, stay home and test yourself to determine if it is, in fact, COVID-19. This one is important. You should do it all the time, regardless of whether it’s COVID-19 or not, but we don’t. Coming to work or school sick is selfish, don’t do it.
If you are experiencing a fever and a cough and have returned from another country, call your healthcare provider and alert them of your symptoms and travel history before seeking medical attention. They will perform appropriate tests to prevent the further spread of the illness.
We know there are no magical solutions to any of this, and there are many incredible challenges involved in much of what we’re talking about. Few of us will ever get to be 100 percent prepared, and that’s okay.
The main thing is to do what you can to build a reasonable, thoughtful culture of preparedness and a common-sense selfless approach to protect yourself and your neighbors to outlast this crisis.