Counties in California have been enacting Shelter in Place ordinances over the last few days. What does Shelter in Place mean? Essentially, what it means, according to Wikipedia, is for us to “seek safety within the building one already occupies, rather than evacuate the area or seek a community emergency shelter”. Its good to be familiar with that term as it may come up more often as this Covid-19 epidemic escalates.
Currently San Francisco and the surrounding counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Cruz and now Sonoma, are enacting the ordinance to help curb the outbreak of this virus. This is unprecedented times, my friends. Not everyone is taking this as serious as others and the level of panic can be seen at grocery stores with shelves laid barren. Los Angeles is doing its part but hasn’t quite gone the route as the Bay Area, yet. We see Italy embarking on deepening their lockdown and sending warnings to the rest of the world, and US.
This situation leaves some people asking, “what can I do to protect myself and my family during this pandemic?” A term you may have also heard is social distancing. It applies to certain actions that are taken by Public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease. Bars, restaurants, theaters, and other public places of gathering are all closing their doors in the name of social distancing. I’m here to say: yes, this is serious, but do you need to panic? No!
How Does COVID-19 Spread?
Currently, health officials are working around the clock to find a vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The CDC says that the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. It is thought that the virus spreads from person-to-person through close contact and respiratory droplets made when a person sneezes or coughs. The droplets can be inhaled or land on a person nearby. Therefore, it’s very important to take proper steps in protecting yourself and your family.
What Steps Can I Take to Protect Myself?
Here are a few tips to help you through this viral epidemic:
Use soap and water, rub your hands together and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Sing happy birthday to yourself. Its always a good idea to wash your hands after being in public or coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
Avoid contact with anyone that may be sick. Don’t take chances. Put distance between yourself and other people. If this virus is in your community its especially important to keep your distance if you are at a higher risk of getting sick. This is the case for elderly and people with chronic medical conditions that weaken their immune system. This is where social distancing comes into play. Avoid contact for your safety and for the safety of others.
What Steps Can I take to Protect Others
If you’re sick, stay home! If you need medical attention, call your doctor before going in. The CDC has a slew of tips to help you if you get sick, how to prevent from getting sick, and how to help others. It may be hard to tell yourself to stay home, especially if you’re a working-class or low-income individual, but please for your health and that of others, stay home! Currently, our government is working hard to figure out solutions to help save our economy during this trying time. From expanding paid leave to offering unemployment assistance, to even sending checks to us while we are not working. This injection to the American economy is meant to help tide people over until other government aid can arrive. Therefore, it’s important to take steps in protecting ourselves and others.
Covering your mouth when you cough, or sneeze should be a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people disregard this! Use your elbow or tissue to cover your cough or sneeze and be sure to immediately wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. We did a nice article on how to make your own hand sanitizer, check it out.
What about face masks? Well, if you are sick then you should wear one but if you aren’t sick, its best to not wear a mask. That may seem strange but the reason being is that face masks, also referred to as respirators, are in low supply and in high demand for caregivers.
Lastly, and this is by far the most important, is to clean and disinfect frequently! Wipe and clean all surfaces including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets…pretty much anything that can come into human contact. It may seem excessive but, come on people we are in crisis mode here. Just do everyone a favor and keep you and your area clean! You can use almost any common EPA-registered household disinfectant but be sure to use proper chemicals for the proper surface you’re cleaning. Dilute bleach with water, 1/3 cup of bleach to a gallon of water. Alcohol solutions are also a great option but be sure they are 70% or higher. The EPA has a list of disinfectants that claim to be effective against COVID-19 based on data gathered on harder to kill viruses. Follow the instructions given on whatever chemical you use to ensure proper handling. Please, don’t try and drink bleach.
Final Thoughts on Handling this Coronavirus Epidemic
It may seem like its difficult to combat this viral spread but don’t lose hope and start retreating to your bunker just yet. Yes, this is a serious situation that requires ALL of us to pay attention but if we work together as a community and as a country, we can fight this and win. Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, clean often with disinfectant, and if you’re sick, stay home and call your doctor! Don’t go to work or go out if you have a weak immune system. Check in with your neighbors if they need any supplies. Now is the time for love and compassion rather than being selfish and ignorant.