The World Health Organization has deemed the Coronavirus “a public health emergency of international concern,” and it’s spread to many states in the U.S. so pretty much everyone I know is feeling emotions ranging from worried to downright freaked out.
I wish this post was one of hypothetical concern, far from any of the U.S. hotspots of the Coronavirus cases, but sadly that’s not the case. I live just outside Seattle in King County, Washington and our Governor has declared a state of emergency here. We’ve had 17 fatalities here as of March 8th and are up to 100+ cases just in our county. Scary right?
Because of this, and especially because I’m a mom of 2, I’ve done quite a lot of research. I’ll site my sources at the end but please know that I’m only giving you information that I got from the CDC (Center for Disease Control), physicians and reputable news sources.
I want to share facts and give you some tips to help keep your worry and stress in check (as much as is possible), plus give you some tangible to do’s:
- Symptoms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) include fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Additional symptoms to watch for are runny nose, sore throat and headache. Symptoms normally show up 2- 14 days after exposure to the virus.
- Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- While experts can’t say for sure, spread of coronavirus is mostly person to person while in close proximity (i.e. 6′ or less) and through tiny water droplets from coughing or sneezing.
- Masks do not stop Coronavirus and wearing them will not help you stay healthy! In fact, you SHOULD NOT wear a mask unless YOU are sick with key symptoms of coronavirus! Masks only help with preventing it from spreading to others only. Again, masks will NOT help you avoid the virus and constant wearing actually can actually get you sick with other lovely things since bacteria breeds in moist damp environments, and the masks hold in moisture.
- Don’t get caught up in this panic driven buying! Amazon is sold out of masks unless you want to pay crazy mark-ups from 3rd party sellers. I’ll admit that I know this because I had a moment of panic myself last week and thought about getting some before I did a few minutes of research. Just remember that if you’re sick, visit your doctor and they’ll give you masks to wear.
If you suspect you are contaminated, only wear the plastic surgical type masks! Cloth masks are completely useless against the virus, and frankly don’t filter much in the way of small particles from the air so are pretty useless in general.
- Use your best judgement in all situations, but generally speaking, we don’t all need to be hermits, we just need to 1) be smart, 2) stay informed and 3) take care of ourselves (more on these 3 below).
- Most cases involving Coronavirus are mild!!! Yes, I used 3, count ’em… 3, exclamation marks because this is really important to remember. As scary as the news makes us feel, it’s really imperative that we keep perspective and stay calm. I’ve read different doctors explaining over and over that those with good immune systems should recover quickly if they contract it. Only those folks the medical community classifies as ‘High Risk’ are the ones that need to be most concerned about. That said, unfortunately for many of us reading No Qualms Mom and other Mom related websites, our kids under 5, and especially those under 2, are in the high-risk group. And those of you that are pregnant, I’m probably not needing to tell you that you’re also in the High-Risk group.
Those classified High Health Risk, in addition to young kids, pregnant women and folks over 65, are people suffering from the following conditions: respiratory issues like asthma, heart disease & stroke, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Cancer and Children with Neurologic Conditions. Read more about each risk group on the CDC site.
~ Center for Disease Control
Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs.~ Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Edward Wojciechowski
- Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds (the World Health Organization recommends 40-60 seconds) with warm to hot water and follow both of these 3 crucial directives: (1) Use a big dollap of soap and lather well to the point of mellow bubbles/foam being visible and clean your hands like you see on TV hospital shows: clasp our hands with interlocking fingers then scrub between each finger, under and around your nails, front and back; (2) In public places, turn the water off with a paper towel or kleenex! Faucets are super germy! Plus use a paper towel or tissue to open the door then dispose of the paper towel ASAP (at home either do this or disinfect faucets and door knobs often) and (3) Dry your hands VERY WELL with single use hand towels. You heard me…only use it once and then put it in the to wash basket. I’ve putting a stack of cotton dish towels by each sink and a basket to toss them in, and then washing them daily or every other day on the hot water sanitize cycle along with my regular towels. Paper towels work great too although I find my little one doesn’t dry as well with them for some reason. Regardless of what you use to dry, make sure that your hands are COMPLETELY DRY. If you have kids, you’ll likely know that this rarely happens when left to their own devices. You’re going to have to really hammer the need home over and over I’d guess, but since germs thrive in moisture, drying well is extremely important. Kid Tip: Have your kids sing a slow-paced version of the Happy Birthday song and teach them the Operating Room wash style. Put a timer on and make a game of it perhaps with a toy stethoscope or headlamp? If you’re finding they cut corners, use a portable speaker and play the song or something else to keep them lathering up. Then do the same thing for drying.
- The Center for Disease Control says it is possible for someone to get Coronavirus from contact with infected surfaces or objects. So, it can spread by a person touching an area or item that has the virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not considered to be the main way to catch it, but it’s good to be aware of the possibility.
- With the above in mind, take extra precautions to thoroughly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. A quick google search popped up articles like the one linked here that goes over germiest spots in the house. Some things I knew about (kitchen sponges and sinks) and some I didn’t realize were so germy like toothbrush holders, pet toys, bathroom towels and various electronics. Important tip: be sure to wipe on cleaner and allow it to sit for a bit before wiping it up to be absolutely sure of germ-killing power. In public, use paper towels or tissues to grab door knobs and click elevator buttons. Or if it’s cold enough in your area, just keep your winter gloves on until you’re settled at your destination.
- Emphasize to your kids that if they poop, cough or sneeze, they need to be extra careful about great hand washing practices since the CDC is now saying it suspects spread by fecal matter is possible in addition to spreading by droplets of moisture in the nose and mouth.
- If you cannot wash your hands well, use hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol in it. There are a lot of awesome no-alcohol varieties out there but they will not help with the Coronavirus. Be sure about any brand’s %: use the U.S. Library of Medicine’s site.
- Be prepared and consider stocking up on key items! Many experts are warning that there will soon be shortages in some items as current supplies from China dwindle, and while unlikely, if your area gets hit really hard, you’ll want to avoid trips to Walmart as much as possible thus being prepared is extra important. I’d assert though that the biggest reason isn’t avoiding the possible scarcity of goods, but instead that preparation will significantly reduce your stress and level of worry!
- Make the time to follow the basic preparedness tips in my post Plan Ahead: Things Every Parent Should Have at the Ready. I’ll be super transparent here and say that it took the coronavirus threat to get me to finally finish a full emergency planning prep kit. Now that it’s done, I frankly don’t know what the heck kept me putting it off so much. DO IT!
- Be sure that you and all family members understand the symptoms of pneumonia and the differences between a cold or minor flu and it.
- Talk calmly about the virus to your kids as well as older family members. Fake news and exaggerated, hyped up stories are everywhere it seems. I know you may feel that talking may scare them, but remember that not talking about it makes it even scarier – like a monster that’ll jump out of a closet at them. Explain the things I’ve outlined here and also that although a simple cough needs to carefully covered and paid attention to (see tips on that below), it’s a big leap from a cough to pneumonia. Keep it age appropriate and short.
- Most patients affected will recover on their own by drinking plenty of fluids, resting, and taking pain and fever medications. However, some cases develop pneumonia and require medical care or potentially hospitalization.
- Like recovering patients, take good care of yourself! So, I’ll repeat the medical advice of drink plenty of water and get a lot of rest. I’m encouraging my little one to drink more water but making a goal with stickers for each time we fill her water bottle.
- Wash your reusable water bottles very well every day with plenty of hot water and soap; if it can go in the dishwasher on sanitize cycle do it.
- If you or anyone in your family are sick, STAY HOME! Use standard school guidelines here: do not go out if you’ve had a fever, vomited or had flu or virus like symptoms in 24 hours. Nothing is more important than your health. Not a work project, not a school play, nothing. Period.
- Cough only into the crook of your elbow or a tissue. Hands can both spread germs to you and give them to others.
- Avoid touching your face especially your eyes, nose, or mouth. This is a tough one for kids so figure out a way to be firm but kind when getting them to stop this. If they are guilty of sticking fingers in their mouths, and/or you’re a super-worrier, you can get a non-toxic edible oil, something bitter or even a product geared to help quit nail biting.
- Throw used tissues immediately and put directly into the trash or carry a Ziplock in your bag or child’s backpack to put them in. I’ll occasionally use cloth handkerchiefs to be more eco-friendly but, in this instance, unless you have a zillion of them and follow a single use then wash policy, you should skip them in lieu of disposable tissues until this is over. Also, I’ll be the first to admit when sick I’ve been known to toss tissues on my nightstand if the trash can is out of my reach but again, in this case, major no-no. If you end up with someone sick in the house, you may want to wear disposable gloves when emptying trash cans.
- Avoid the ER unless you’re seriously ill or injured. We need to keep our hospitals available to those that are seriously sick. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first. Or go to one of the many urgent care facilities that statistically speaking, will expose you to far less risk and help the hospitals function well while treating folks seriously ill.
I hope we can all avoid contracting coronavirus, and that our families and friends do too! Please remember the 3 Keys of staying safe: be smart, stay informed from reputable news and government sources and take good care of yourself.
And remember to follow the basic tips on preparedness in my post Plan Ahead: Things Every Parent Should Have at the Ready.
- Daily Med website U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Prevent Illness by Washing Hands Mayo Clinic Health
- Information on High Risk Health Groups Center for Disease Control
- Pneumonia Symptoms American Lung Association
- Everything We Know about the Coronavirus Epidemic New York Magazine, The Cut
- Why alcohol-based hand sanitizers are still your best bet for avoiding germs The Washington Post
- Show Me the Science – When & How to Use Hand Sanitizer in Community Settings Center for Disease Control
Photos from Adobe Stock.