How to Make Sense of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
The coronavirus pandemic is understandably anxiety-provoking. Rarely do viruses spread around the world so quickly. In trying to contain the virus, communities have been affected by quarantines and lockdowns. Face masks and hand sanitizer and toilet paper are flying off the shelves. This is the stuff movies are made of. But in real life, we are not doomed to confront a zombie apocalypse. It’s important for us to tune out the scary stuff so we can pay attention to what matters.
Here’s what we know:
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness started by a new virus from the coronavirus family; it emerged in December 2019.
Like other viruses, it’s contagious before symptoms develop (the CDC estimates that it takes 2-14 days to show signs of infection).
During the period of contagiousness, an individual infected with COVID sheds a lot of viral particles, making it very easy for other people to unknowingly contract the virus.
Frequent handwashing is imperative. Soap and water are best, but alcohol-based hand sanitizers will do when you’re not near a sink. Wash for at least 20 seconds, and make sure to clean under your nails.
When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (or cough into your elbow), then wash your hands. Try to avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes–this is where viral particles enter the body.
Some communities, cities, and even countries are enforcing strict stay-at-home policies to try to contain the virus. Although COVID-19 is a mild illness for the vast majority of individuals who are infected, it is fatal for some, particularly the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions. It’s important that we do what we can to slow the spread of COVID so that we don’t overwhelm healthcare facilities. We need to reserve high acuity medical attention for those of us who become really ill.
Most people who are infected with COVID-19 will experience common cold symptoms (headache, congestion, sore throat, cough), often with a fever. Some people will experience severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, weakness, or confusion. In the case of severe symptoms, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. In the case of mild symptoms, it’s important to stay home. Call your primary care provider or reach out to us at Galileo.
Do your best to stay healthy by optimizing the basics–adequate sleep, good nutrition, and stress management (exercise, meditation, etc.) are foundational aspects of a robust immune system. Read more about optimizing immunity here. To help you stay up-to-date with the most accurate information, we’ve compiled a list of resources below. And, of course, you can always talk to us at Galileo. We’re here to help.