News about COVID-19 illnesses and the attempt to formulate a plan to prevent further illnesses and deaths has saturated every mode of information. TV news, online streaming, Instagram,Facebook, information about how to avoid the virus, who is impacted most, testimonials of those impacted and those that have recovered, even our shopping habits are inundated with what you need to purchase, stories about how all the things you “should” purchase are sold out- the list goes on. And, that is without the politicized layer of this experience, which can be exhausting in itself.
The internet becomes a pool of “news,” accurate information mixed with that which isn’t precise (or downright misleading). With stories developing so rapidly, information we believed to be solidified is frequently upended from one day to the next. So, how does anybody know what is accurate? We’ve collected several resources that provide up-to-date information, suggestions for maintaining healthy, as well as guidance in the event you or somebody in your household becomes sick.
The approaches taken by world leaders in combating COVID-19 have been controversial, even polarizing, as people cope with the many ways their lives have changed. News sources can become secondary source of stress and anxiety, as we try to sort through what is accurate information and what is angled for viewers. That being said, there are wonderful sources available that provide factual information and helpful resources:
World Health Organization: The World Health Organization was formed in 1945, when diplomats formed the United Nations, eager to create global health organization to support the citizens of the world. WHO maintains a vision of a world in which all peoples attain the highest possible level of health, and their mission includes promoting health, working to keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable,
Not only does WHO provide health and wellness information, they are also partnering with other organizations to help families and individuals cope with this unprecedented time. One great example is WHO joining with UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund) and the International Publishers Association to launch a reading initiative to support children and young people in isolation. WHO also shares support for those struggling with smoking, alcohol, mental health awareness, and other topics that can be amplified in times of stress such as these. People are encouraged to share how they are staying healthy, using the social media tag #HealthAtHome . Follow WHO on Twitter, Instagram, and on their website for up to date information.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise. The CDC shares current updates about COVID-19, information about prevention, symptoms, what to do if you are ill, and general data on keeping healthy. The CDC website also highlights “Facts of the Week,” ranging from general information about diseases, wellness, to diet guidance among many other resources to help educate the public. Follow the CDC on Twitter, Instagram, and on their website.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face. New recommendations also include using face coverings when in public settings as well as maintaining social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease.
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. It should be noted that despite extensive news coverage about the drug chloroquine, evidence has yet to show that it counteracts COVID-19.
The CDC has shared these guidelines to help reduce the rate of infection and the risk of developing serious complications; they stress that the best prevention is to avoid exposure to the virus. Here’s how:
Clean Your Hands Often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid Close Contact
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home as much as possible. Only leave for essential purposes (purchasing foods and medication). Most states have issued “stay at home” mandates, with varying degrees of enforcement. To read about Arizona’s guidelines, click here. If you are able to, consider using food delivery services for groceries and other items (check the store’s website for any direct offers, or check out services like Shipt, Instacart, Postmates and GrubHub, just to name a few. If delivery isn’t an option, many companies and stores are also offering curb side pickup to limit contact with people.
- Put distance between yourself and other people- at least six feet.
- Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
- Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Use Face Coverings When Around Others
- You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. Read here how to properly use a mask.
- Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
- Do NOT use a face mask meant for a healthcare worker.
- Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
Cover Coughs and Sneezes
- If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Clean and Disinfect
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface. Here is a list of EPA approved surface cleaners that work against the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Diluting your household bleach.
To make a bleach solution, mix:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
- Alcohol solutions.
Ensure solution has at least 70% alcohol.
The World Health Organization has also put together this list of mythbusters, tackling misinformation about COVID-19.
If you or somebody in your household have been exposed to the virus, symptoms may include a dry cough, fever, and lethargy. People with underlying health conditions have been found to experience more severe symptoms. Stay home, but keep in contact with your health care provider. If symptoms worsen, call before you get medical care so that precautions can be taken. Be sure to get care if you have trouble breathing, or have any other emergency warning signs.
Please read these recommendations on how to care for yourself or somebody else at home, how to disinfect a home where somebody that has been sick has spent time, as well as other important information about when and how to seek treatment.
Do not ignore your healthcare maintenance. Allowing underlying heath issues such as diabetes, hypertension, renal issues, cardiovascular, chronic obstructive lung diseases, among other concerns, to go unaddressed can impact your ability to fight off infections. Other significant issues, not at all related to the Coronavirus, may be at play that can and should be treated to prevent diminishing your body’s ability to respond.
Non emergent concerns such as sprains, strains, injuries can often be treated in your doctor’s office without overwhelming the already overwhelmed emergency system. Your provider will already have all your records as well. Through these trying times, your healthcare providers continue to offer whatever is required to ensure your health, safety and quality of care is not diminished.