The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has everyone in a panic, and rightfully so. It seems like when the virus was halfway around the world and we were spectators of the news, it was easier to understand why government agencies were putting restrictions in place. Now that it is in our backyards it seems like there are more questions than answers.
It is pretty easy to get mixed information about this virus and how it is spread, and even what “quarantine” can mean. There is a lot that the experts still do not know, but there are some things they are all in agreement about that can be found in just about every news outlet. Learn what quarantine would look like for you and your family, and the steps you can personally take to avoid the virus and spreading it.
Conspiracy Theories In the News
Let’s start by trying to dispel some of the conspiracy theories. This is not a lab-created virus that is part of a biological warfare plan. It is also not a “newly discovered virus”. What it is, is a mutation of the same virus that causes the common cold.
Where it came from is the Wuhan Province in China. It is thought that this virus originated from a market that sold banned meat products, specifically the Pangolin. The Pangolin is an aardvark like an animal that is on the endangered species list. It is a well-known carrier of coronavirus, and some scientist believes it is what is killing them off in the wild.
Our knowledge of the coronavirus dates back to the 1930s. One strain causes the common cold, however, this strain of this particular virus is not well known. Research scientists are working around the clock to get to know it better and to be able to predict patterns.
What We Do Know
This virus can infect all age groups, however, it is people 59 or older that are in the highest risk categories of suffering from severe symptoms. Other high-risk groups include those with existing respiratory problems, cardiac problems, diabetes and immune-compromised individuals.
Twenty-somethings and younger have so far seemed to have to deal with the least amount of symptoms from COVID-19. While the disease may not be a life-threatening to younger healthy people, it can be devastating to aging parents that live with them.
According to the World Health Organization published in many news outlets, people over the age of 69 have experienced a 16% mortality rate from this disease. Many property managers of housing for seniors are limiting visitors because of the threat to the residents.
We do know that this is a highly contagious disease. Recently a group of executives attended a conference in Massachusetts, there were 28 members in the group. Seven members of the firm traveled from Raleigh North Carolina to participate. One member had the virus, and after 10 days, all 28 attendees tested positive, including the 7 members from NC.
Each member returned to their home state without any symptoms and traveled extensively in their home town as people do. The chain reaction of these 28 people has been incredible and has been a lesson in how quickly this virus can spread.
Is it A Big Deal?
There has been a lot of chatter about comparing the COVID-19 to the seasonal flu. It is hard to compare the two because we know enough about the flu to know how it is transmitted, some antivirals can help, and the flu season has an end date. We also have a vaccine for the flu.
In the end, the novel coronavirus will likely one day be treated the same way, but right now, no one knows enough about it to even consider the possibility of a vaccine or treatment in less than a year in the best situation.
It does seem this virus spreads quicker, and kills people quicker. Is there a level of hysteria surrounding this pathogen, probably, but it is hard not to get hysterical when we watched what happened in China and Italy and other parts of the world.
The fact is, much of the news can be hard to flesh out, but, it is better to be safe than sorry. We just do not know right now how this will unfold and play out.
What Is The Government Doing About This?
The government is taking steps to ensure that people that cannot remotely work from home will be able to get paid. They are making decisions on a day by day basis according to the news briefs they are releasing. They are also passing laws that will make sure even those without health insurance can get care.
There are talks about “payroll tax holidays” and travel bans. While payroll tax holidays sound like a great way to boost the economy. It can give people the money they need to get by if they do have to sit home for 14 days, there is a real downside to this generous offer as pointed about recently by a news anchor on a local station.
About 1.1 trillion dollars(according to AP news) is generated by payroll taxes every year. If this payroll tax holiday is granted, how would that money be made up? The US budget would fall short by over $1 trillion. It would take years to recoup those losses. Only time will tell if this is a measure that will be implemented, and what the long term repercussions would be.
Ultimately, the government is working hard to try to contain the problem. They do not want to take the drastic measures that Italy has had to take by closing down the entire country. The PM of Italy has taken the extraordinary steps of banning travel to and from any city, canceling all public events and gatherings including banning weddings and funerals.
There is a good chance that life as we know it will change dramatically and many freedoms are likely to be restricted until this threat passes. The CDC and other government agencies are working around the clock to come up with solutions that will prevent the loss of life and protect our economy. The fact is this situation is a learn as you go situation.
What Can You Do?
The number one thing you can do to protect yourself is to stay away from large crowds. Every news station is rife with advice and the number one piece is to stay home. The NBA has already canceled the rest of their season, and it is expected that other sporting organizations will follow suit. Universities are moving to all online classes and emptying the dorms. You can expect concerts to be canceled and other events where large masses of people will gather.
Avoid going to the doctor. Yes, you read that right. Unless you need to, now is not the time to get that random foot pain checked out. Any unnecessary appointments for medical or dental care, postpone. For example, typically if you go to the dentists in March for your semi-annual cleaning, switch the appointment until June. You will be fine and it is better than exposing yourself to the virus that other people in the waiting room may have.
Other tips for self-care include:
- People, places, and things matter. Stay away from people that are sick, stay away from places where lots of people gather or are in and out of often, be careful of what you touch.
- Wash your hands diligently, and avoid touching your face near your eyes mouth or nose.
- Self quarantine if you need to (more on this down below)
One of the best things you can do to avoid catching or transmitting COVID-19 is to use common sense. No one will think you rude if you are not hugging them when you greet them, or even extending a hand for a firm handshake. Keep your hands to yourself, and make sure you are washing them well.
Don’t panic but do not assume that you are not at risk. You may be young and healthy, but the people around you may not be. Everyone is at risk and should move with that in mind.
Use common sense decision making, for example, that plumbing work that you wanted to get done, has waited this long it can wait a little longer, why? Simply because you do not want to invite someone into your home that works in close quarters with other people. Your local plumber may be a great guy, but you should only address emergency plumbing issues for the next couple of months.
If the dog gets sick pet hospitals are fine to visit but put a little distance between you and other pet owners. Don’t stop living your life, just live a bit differently until the crisis has passed. If you are sick, stay home.
The Right Way to Quarantine
Being told you need to quarantine for 14 days is not a hall pass to hit up the latest movie, go shopping at the mall and get that yard work done. It means you are sitting in the house 24/7 for 14 days looking out your windows.
Even when you feel better you can be a threat to the community. Don’t let anyone in your home and do not leave your home. Grab some firewood for sale through a delivery service, light the fire on those chilly evenings grab a book and relax.
Unfortunately containing this virus will be impossible if people do not quarantine themselves properly. It can also mean that tougher restrictions will be put in place if people do not. A man in St. Louis had two daughters one was found to have the coronavirus and was put on quarantine. That meant the whole family was quarantined. He took the other daughter to the father-daughter dance at their school the same day. This is not how you to quarantine.
Whether you are sick or not if you live with someone who is, all the members of that household are put on quarantine. That means no one leaves the house, unless it is a bona fide emergency, in the life-threatening sense.
What Do I Do If I Get Quarantined
The first thing you do is relax it is a 14-day quarantine. You can look at it as a positive, you can get all those household chores done like cleaning out the closets. You can binge-watch all the series you wished you had time to watch. You will find something to keep you occupied.
The next thing to do is start ordering provisions. That does not mean going to Walmart and getting in the self check out lane to protect people, it means ordering online and having your goods delivered. There are so many grocery stores that offer home delivery now.
Worst case scenario you live on the outskirts of town and no one is delivering anything to your area. Amazon Pantry has a great selection and you can choose a quick delivery option to get your items quickly. Is this an ideal way to live? Probably not, but at the end of the day it is only two weeks, just hang in there, and you will be fine.
According to the experts this is just the tip of the iceberg of changes that will have to be made to protect people in the United States, more restrictions will trickle down. There is no reason to go over the worst-case scenario because it can get pretty grim when you do.
The economy is likely to take a large hit, the news is pretty bleak, how large depends on how long it takes for things to get under control or for the virus to crest. Ultimately, there will be an impact on our economy. People will likely lose wages, companies will slow down on productivity, and the stock market will continue to fluctuate.
There is not a lot of predictions about what this will do to the economy, but every prediction does say that there will be some fallout. The best thing anyone can do is not panic and just play by the rules.