(MARCH 2, 2020 COVID-19)
I drafted this post a few days ago and started this section with “Well, it looks pretty clear that we are going to be dealing wtih COVID-19 on our home turf in a hot second.”
Apparently I was correct. I’m in the Pacific Northwest and we have 3 cases in Oregon, close to where I live, and at least 18 in Washington where 5 people have died. There have likely been many more exposures and we are going to have many more cases.
My advice as of a few days ago? Don’t panic.
That is still my advice.
It is starting to look like there are many infections that are pretty mild, or even asymptomatic. We know this now because there is mass testing being done in a few places (that’s not likely to happen here, FWIW.)
But just because you don’t panic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be aware and be prepared. This isn’t just for yourself. Planning ahead helps “put slack in the system” (here is a great twitter thread on what that means and why you should do it). I’m an ‘err on the side of caution’ person by my nature. So given that, here is what I am telling my clients and patients who ask:
If you’re sick, stay home. If your kids are sick, keep them home. Staying home if you’re sick, and maybe in the face of a widespread outbreak even if you’re not sick but have the ability to do so, will ‘flatten the curve’ allowing a lighter burden on the entire medical system. Here is an article on the Scientific American blog that explains this very well. Please give it a read.
- Keep your immune system in tip top shape. This means take your vitamin D. Rest. Get plenty of sleep. Drink water. Get outside. Don’t panic.
- Get a backup supply of your medications. Some sources are saying a week’s worth, I’m saying a month or two, just in case. If you have any history of asthma be sure your meds are up to date. Check the label!
- Pick up food that can last a few weeks to a month in case you decide to hunker in place, or simply not put more of a burden on the system if there is any kind of outbreak in your area. See #1.
- Reconsider travel. Trust me, this one pains me. I’m not excessively worried about planes per se, but if it would be a problem for you if you get stuck somewhere (logistically or financially) you might want to take that into consideration.
- Wash your damn hands. 20 seconds. With soap. All surfaces. Before and after you prepare food. After you’ve handled things that a lot have people have also handled (as in after you go food shopping). After you use the bathroom. And while you’re at it, go ahead and keep this up fo-evah. Please.
- Cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm or into a tissue (which you can then put in a plastic bag and dispose of when you get to a garbage). If you are sick wear a mask to keep others from breathing in your respiratory droplets (at this time masks are not recommended if you are not sick as their main purpose is to keep you from getting other people ill.)
- Talk to your boss. Ask what the company plan is if you are not able to be at work because you are sick, or for parents, if schools are closed.
- Don’t panic. For reals. It appears that most people will have a mild version of this virus. But it’s up to all of us to help protect the most vulnerable among us from COVID-19. Let’s do what we can.
If you have specific questions about what might help you bolster your immune system, or want assistance working up a personalized plan for supporting your immune system, feel free to schedule a visit at the office or online. I’m here.
Yours in Health,
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