COVID-19: What You Need to Know
Odds are that by this point, you're heard about the Coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19, which is infecting more and more people every day and generally causing a massive uproar throughout the world. But what is COVID-19 really? Who's most at risk, how do you avoid being infected, and what do you actually need to stock up on (hint: it isn't toilet paper)? While we aren't a medical provider, and I'm certainly no medical doctor, we do think it's important to be in the know about this issue.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a viral pathogen that causes a respiratory condition called COVID-19, manifesting symptoms that include coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. It's believed to spread from person to person through close interpersonal contact and inhalation of respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. As of today there are roughly 135,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the world.
Who's most at risk?
Nearly all COVID-19 related deaths and dire cases have involved people over the age of 60, as well as those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and pulmonary problems. Severe cases, though rare, can cause respiratory difficulties, kidney failure, and other life-threatening symptoms.
How do I avoid being infected?
The best practices for avoiding infection involve attention to basic hygiene practices, such as washing your hands thoroughly and not touching your face, mouth, or nose. Other tips include:
1. Regular cleaning of household surfaces and items that are frequently subject to human contact, such as sinks, door handles, phones and other electronic devices, and light switches. You can use dedicated cleaning products like Lysol or Clorox, or you can use good old-fashioned soap and water.
2. If you have to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth. Hopefully you were already doing that!
3. Try to avoid large crowds of people. If you can help it, try not to touch door handles, railings, elevator buttons, or other metal surfaces while you're out in public. In other words, don't go to the courthouse unless you have to.
4. Especially if you're sick or a member of a high-risk group, such as the elderly or those afflicted with a pre-existing condition, try your best to stay home. Don't count on others to look out for your health; take matters into your own hands by staying in.
What do I actually need to stock up on?
You don't need extra toilet paper! Say it again with me: you 👏 do 👏 not 👏need 👏 extra 👏 toilet 👏 paper! Bottled water is similarly unnecessary, though hydration is undoubtedly very important.
Here's the stuff you actually do need a good supply of:
1. Medications; both prescription and over-the-counter. This includes things like nasal spray, thermometers, etc.
2. Pet food. Your dogs and cats will thank you.
3. Toiletries like toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc.
4. If you're planning to stay in for an extended period, whether to quarantine or just out of an abundance of caution, keep at least a couple weeks' worth of nonperishable foods handy.
The most important thing to remember is that even though this is a scary time, there's no need to panic. Losing your cool doesn't help anything and it can actually make a bad situation quite a bit worse. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and take good common-sense steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. Let's all stay healthy!