As health officials worldwide warn of the spread of the new/novel coronavirus – officially named as COVID-19, everyone (young, old, healthy, etc.) must heed the precautionary warnings issued by health experts. At this time, health officials are only first understanding how the conditions and the disease caused by coronavirus impacts a human being.
Currently, the most important thing for each individual to understand is just how important it is to learn how to prevent a virus (and its symptoms) from spreading and how to avoid getting a virus entirely.
Viruses – A Primer
A virus is a parasitic organism that exists amorphously – that is, without a cell membrane. A virus cannot replicate itself unless it has attached to a host.
Examples of better-known viruses include –
- West Nile.
- Bird Flu, to name a few.
When trying to learn how to prevent a virus from spreading or trying to develop a vaccine to treat the causes of coronavirus, it is important to realize that two different viruses (be it a bird, animal, or human) within the same host can combine to create a new type of virus that has the ability to jump species.COVID
What is the Coronavirus?
The coronavirus (so-named for its ‘crown-like’ appearance) is a virus that causes respiratory problems related to one’s sinuses, throat, lungs, and nose, among other respiratory areas. Many (some estimates reach as high as 80%) people who become sick with the coronavirus experience symptoms like most people would associate with the flu. Still, others remain asymptomatic.
At this time, the best of the best in the science and medical communities are joining forces to discover how to prevent viruses like COVID – 19 from reaching catastrophic proportions. Until such time, it is critical for each of us to follow these virus prevention suggestions –
Preventing Viruses – Practice Social Distancing
Depending on where you may live, many Americans have been advised to stay home and avoid contact with others to survive this pandemic – especially large crowds. This is a relatively new phenomenon, recently coined – social distancing. The purpose of social distancing is to simply limit social contact as a means of preventing viruses – from spreading through social contact.
Social Distancing is defined as proactively choosing to remain a distance of at least 6 feet between you and another person. The distance is important because that is the general reach of droplets from a cough or sneeze.
It is important that those individuals deemed vulnerable – – the elderly (over 65 years of age), the very young, the infirm, or those with compromised immune systems – remain ultra-cautious because while it is known how to avoid a virus, what causes coronavirus, the incubation period of coronavirus still remains unknown.
Preventing Viruses – Wash Hands Often and Avoid Touching your Face
Each of us has a personal responsibility to help prevent/limit the spread of COVID-19 (or any other dangerous virus/bacteria) to other members of the population, including family and friends. Following this advice is especially critical for those individuals who may develop deadly complications from contracting COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a virus that is easily spread as it can ‘live’ on ‘surfaces’ for extended periods of time – although, at this moment, it is not fully understood how long. Given the uncertainty, the most prudent approach to best practices during the COVID-19 Pandemic would be, at the very bare minimum –
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds.
- Wash your hands with an alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer.
- Do not touch your nose, mouth, or your eyes.
- Try to stay 6 feet apart from others.
How to Avoid Viruses – Wear disposable gloves when going in public places and wash hands as soon as possible
As epidemiologists and medical specialists continue to determine how, why and what is the coronavirus in humans, it is imperative that everyone wear disposable gloves (if available) when venturing into public places to pick up one’s necessities and everyday essentials.
As noted above, it is critical to wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least a half of one minute until more is understood about how and what is coronavirus in humans –
- When returning home after being in a public place.
- After coughing or sneezing.
- When your hands are visibly dirty.
Don’t Panic-Buy or Hoard Supplies Until Experts Determine What Cause Coronavirus
Panic buying is an ego reaction to fear. Panic buying occurs in anticipation that a shortage of products is imminent and forthcoming. Fear arises when conflicting messages abound, people, feel as if they are losing control, and guidance from officials lacks cohesiveness and direction.
And, unfortunately, panic buying is the kind of event that begets more panic buying. As such, level heads must prevail in times of concern – like the COVID-19 pandemic. Ironically, as popular as toilet paper has become, the reality is toilet paper is ineffective if one is looking to learn how to avoid catching a virus at this time.
Keep Prescriptions Current & Nonprescription Medicines Available
In times of uncertainty, it is prudent to keep the following in your home or medicine chest –
- Prescription medicines
- Non-prescription medicines
- Cold Medicines
- Smart Water/Gatorade for Electrolytes
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing to prevent the spread of a virus.
- Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or other pain relievers in your home (or whatever you are sheltered-in-place)- so these meds are available while you continue to abide by the requests of government officials.
Supplement these meds with vitamins and supplements that help support a healthy immune system. Don’t forget about maintaining a complete first-aid kit in case of emergencies when you (and others) are staying home to participate in proactively preventing viruses in and around their home and family.
Keep your Health Records Accessible on Paper or Online
It is always a smart notion to maintain a file of copies of records that relate to –
- Pharmacy records
- Doctor records.
- Dentist records.
- Hospital records.
- Urgent Care or Outpatient facility records.
If you maintain electronic versions of health records from medical sources, be sure that these important records are backed up appropriately.
Remember, that all Americans have the legal right to obtain their own health records (Personal Health Record (PHR)) from medical professionals and facilities. This is further explained by HHS.gov’s Personal Health Records and the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
According to the HHS, a PHR is an important document that helps provide a picture of a patient’s longitudinal history of health. A Personal Health Record typically provides data regarding test results, medications, and diagnoses, to name a few.
How to Avoid Viruses & Maintain One’s Psychological Well-being
Maintain a Regular Sleep Pattern
Getting enough sleep is important for a number of health reasons. Many studies have shown that one of the most important benefits of sleeping well during the night is that sleep improves the number of T-cells in one’s body. T—cells are the body’s defense against intracellular viruses like the flu or even the herpes virus.
Getting enough sleep is a problem for nearly 1/3 of all Americans, according to a study in 2016 by the CDC -the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
T-cells activate a protein-like substance called integrins, which attaches to invading viral cells with the primary purpose of killing these viral cells. However, studies have also shown that high levels of stress (and the hormones produced by stress) can reduce the effectiveness of T-cells defending the body against potential viral infections.
Keep to Normal Everyday Routines as Much as Possible
As difficult as it might seem at times, it is imperative to try to keep one’s daily routine as normal as possible, given the unusual circumstances we are currently facing. This is especially important for those adults who are role models for children who also sense the underlying anxiety present in the face of a pandemic.
Be certain to –
- Take a walk each afternoon or after dinner if that is what you typically do each day.
- Clean your home as normally would, but make sure to wipe contacts that are often touched (doorknobs, cabinet knobs, cellphones, etc.) more often with a disinfectant.
Maintain Physical Activity & Keep your Immune System Boosted
There are many studies that suggest that physical activity and exercise may help increase one’s immune system’s effectiveness. First, exercise helps decrease excess weight, which allows one’s body to function at a more optimal level.
- Physical activity changes white blood cells and antibodies – part of the body’s immune system.
- Physical activity mitigates the release of the hormones associated with stress, which helps increase the immune system’s effectiveness.
- Physical activity raises the body’s temperature, which has been shown to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Exercise also releases the feel-good hormone -endorphin- which helps bolster most people’s attitudes towards life’s challenges.
Do Not Panic
Panic, like hysteria, is counterproductive to solving a pandemic or any other out of control system- especially if one’s goal is to help quell the fears that seem to have morphed into a new brand of conventional wisdom. Panic is furthered by a lack of data and a skewed perspective by the masses.
For additional information, follow these important links to relevant government sources –
- Coronavirus (FEMA) (link)
- Coronavirus (CDC) (link)
- Coronavirus (EPA) (link)
- Talking with Children About Coronavirus Disease (CDC)(link)
- www.flu.gov (CDC) (link)
- Emergency Preparedness & Response (CDC) (link)
- The HSS – the United States Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) (link)