We were in Korea during the MERS outbreak so a respiratory-based epidemic is not exactly new to us. Generally, we are level headed travelers who have made it through countless North Korean threats, earthquakes, typhoons, floods and just day-to-day living. The Covid-19 virus is scary but we want to lay it out calmly but realistically. Why should you listen to us? Because we’re not trying to scare anyone and we’re not offering opinions, only facts.
The psychology behind hoarding toilet paper and all this panic comes from 1) a need for control 2) everyone else is doing it 3) conflicting information and 4) a lack of clear direction We want to address some of these.
- Need for control -Of course you want to feel like you have more control over your life/world than microscopic germs have. The government is closing things – that makes you feel like you don’t have control, either. We want to assure you that you do have control over your life. You can control so very much right now, you can decide what to buy, what to eat, what to do. Sure you may not be able to sit down at a restaurant or take your kids to school but you can call people, cook large batches of food, try new recipes, teach your kids new stuff, spend some quality family time, binge watch movies and TV shows, try new crafts/skills/things. Home repair is on the rise since people have been putting it off and now they’re trying to stay at home/work less now. There is a lot you can do, you get to choose what you will do and thus you do have control. Focus on the cans not the can’ts (and we don’t mean cans like canned food, unless you want to take that up).
- Everyone else is doing it. On the news, sure, everyone is panicking. But the news isn’t reporting “30 year old calmly works from home” or “Family spends quality time at home 15 days in a row without fighting” Because this stuff is happening. Not EVERYONE is hoarding stuff, not EVERYONE is freaking out. Just get enough food, supplies and toilet paper to stay home for 2 weeks (in case you get sick or in case non-essential travel bans are implemented).
- Conflicting information – Everyone’s saying different things, everyone has a “well I heard” story. And even reputable sources and scientists are getting things wrong. It is VERY EARLY to know 100% what’s going on. The 24 hour news cycle can build you up and tear you down within minutes. Do yourself a favor and limit your exposure to the news since it changes so much. Get facts from primary sources then make your own educated decisions for yourself (see below)
- A lack of clear direction It’s up to you to decide what to do but the rest of this blog is going to, hopefully offer ideas and thoughts so you can make your own decisions (have control) and go in your own direction (the one that is best for you).
Stay home/slow the spread
The absolutely most important thing right now is to stay home. Sure you’re not sick (yet), or you’re young and probably won’t die (us), or you really want an otter pop. But at least try to do your part to slow the spread (social distancing, hand washing, coughing/sneezing into arms).
The only thing that is scary about this right now are hospital beds. The USA (and every country) only has enough beds for X number of people. The USA estimates 924,100 beds. When everyone gets sick at once then these beds are filled. But guess what? People still get sick, get cancer, or have car accidents and they will still need beds. This is the only part of the Coronavirus you should be afraid of: the beds filling up and overworking/overwhelming the whole medical system. The solution is crazy simple and easy. No one is even asking you to do anything. Just stay home to slow things down.
The goal is “flattening the curve of the pandemic. The idea is to increase social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus, so that you don’t get a huge spike in the number of people getting sick all at once. If that were to happen, there wouldn’t be enough hospital beds or mechanical ventilators for everyone who needs them” NPR source.
This cat version may help understand
Alert cats will pounce and destroy everything quickly. But cats are generally lazy sleepy guys so we want the cat to lay down for a long period of time. Low and slow. Stay home. You may see this and think we don’t want this longer, but if we have it very suddenly the only reason that chart goes back down is because so many people died.
By staying home or at least limiting contact/social distancing we can try to slow it down. That’s why states are suddenly shutting down ski areas, restaurants and even (recommending) closing state borders. Staying home is the only/best idea anyone has right now (but don’t panic, we have the genome mapped and people are volunteering to be human guinea pigs for the vaccine).
Still don’t believe us?
You can look at the numbers and compare them to Italy. We’re following an extremely similar pattern. Cases double about every 2 days. Italy’s hospitals are overwhelmed right now so we can expect Americas to be soon, as well. If you still aren’t sure watch this video – what Italians wish they could tell themselves from 10 days ago.
We’re not trying to scare anyone we just want to stress that the best thing anyone can do is stay home/slow the spread.
Get your facts directly from the source (primary sources)
- The WHO World Heath Organization has some nice facts, figures, tips, tricks, science, and Myth Busters about who can/can’t get it and how to prevent it.
- Johns Hopkins University has an amazing interactive map
- The CDC has a nice USA specific map which you can click on to get more information about that state
- Your state probably has specific information (Colorado’s here, Texas’s here)
These sources are better than ANY news site because you can get real facts. No exaggeration, drama or speculation. Just facts about the present.
But don’t get hung up on the numbers
Don’t refresh these pages every few hours or watch Covid-19-specific news for longer than 60 minutes a day. This is honestly the worst thing you can do (in some cases worse than getting it). You’re going to stress yourself out, not sleep, get irritable, give yourself heartburn and ulcers, and take years off your life.
Not to stress you out more but the more you’re stressed about this, the more your immune system takes a hit. Get some good rest, stay away from social media/news/talking about it and practice self-care (doing something you like to do!).
We’re all in this together
Brene Brown says “This global pandemic is a real case of “getting sick together’ or ‘staying well together.’ Our choices affect everyone around us. There is no such thing as ‘individual risk’ or ‘individual wellness’ This is the ultimate reminder that we are inextricably connected to each other. Turning away from collective action [like washing hands, coughing into elbows, hoarding supplies] right now – as tempting as it is – will only generate more pain. … Thinking about others as we make choices is, ironically, our only path to safety for ourselves and the people we love”
This isn’t a me vs them thing. If you want to do something you might catch it and spread it to someone else. Be mindful of who you will effect.
How to prepare
Don’t buy all the toilet paper, that’s for sure.
- Get a 2-week supply of things you need. 2 weeks worth of food – if you get sick you’ll need to stay inside for 14 days. If your state implements a non-essential travel ban it’s better to have a 2 weeks supply now before everyone else rushes the store. Stores will be open but people are going to be crazy then. Keep in mind if you’re going to run out of something like deodorant, contact solution, etc in the next two weeks go ahead and get that now. Don’t forget your prescriptions and pet food. After you get your stuff stay home.
- Get tissues (for runny noses) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) is nice for fevers and pain. Also something to replenish electrolytes if you have a fever (Gatorade, Emergen-C, Pedialite, for example)
- Ibuprofen (Advil) is could be good if that’s your favorite pain killer. France and the internet said Advil may diminish the response of the body’s immune system … but others say its fine (at this time but they are looking into it)
- Get whatever cold/flu/cough medicine you like -Mucinex, Robitussin, DayQuil/NyQuil, Tylenol Cold and Flu, etc. Plan to wait this out like any ordinary flu (unless you can’t breathe, then and only then call a doctor).
- Consider a humidifier for the dry cough (but a steamy shower will do just as well).
- Especially if your store is low on stuff make your own soups or your favorite meals and freeze them for later. Cooking your favorite foods and looking forward to them will give you a sense of control and a clear sense of direction.
- If you have a pre-existing lung condition (COPD, lung cancer) call your doctor now and make a plan. You may be able to be admitted easier/faster if you discuss this. If you have asthma make sure you have your inhaler handy.
- Call your work and discuss paid leave plans or what they want to do if they haven’t already created distance work. Plan out where you will work at home and get headphones for all the video conferencing you may do.
- Go to your kid’s school web page and get information on what students will be doing. Stay involved in your students schooling and education for the next few weeks. This is not an early summer break.
When/if you go shopping for things don’t take your whole family. One person needs to go to limit contact.
Practice social distancing (stand 3-6 feet plus away from others). Or as Colorado is so eloquently putting it, one ski-length away (although this depends on how big your ski is).
Don’t forget to be nice to the underpaid workers who are risking their health to make sure you can buy medicine and soup.
If you get it or think you have it
Stay at home. And one more time for the people in the back: STAY AT HOME. Your (grand)parents fought in the War you can manage 14 days at home.
80% of people have mild symptoms. Manage your symptoms no differently than you would if you got a bad chest cold.
Use tylenol/asprin to bring down the fever and help with aches. Take cough medicine or mucus expectorants to help with that. Rest. Sleep. Hydrate (you should be drinking at least 3 liters/100 ounces of water a day).
You should only go to the ER if you can’t manage your fever or can’t breathe (but honestly, if you can, call ahead and ask what they want you to do – they may want to meet you at your car).
Managing your fever means staying hydrated as well. Don’t end up in the hospital with dehydration.
Cough into your elbow, clean surfaces, don’t share towels, and have someone take the dog away for a bit (or wear a mask when hanging out with your dog).
Wash Your Hands
C lean your hands
O pen hands and clean them
R emove germs from hands
O pen hands etc as above
A nd tidy hands
V erify hands are clean
I s your hands clean?
R emove hand germs
U ndirt your hands
S tay clean handed
But for real wash your hands carefully. With warm/hot water. For as long as you would sing “Happy Birthday”. Feel free to wash your wrists and keep commonly missed places in mind. Here are the most commonly missed places. Get your fingernail areas and thumbs.
Don’t touch your face and cough into your arm
Cough/sneeze into your elbow. This is better than any mask because it’s 1.5 inches of solid flesh-and-bone stopping germs rather than a paper-thin mask.
Touching your face is difficult, but free.
Don’t melt your hands off
Sure hand sanitizer would help but it’s all sold out. If you want to make your own be careful
What about your kids?
Few if any children have died and very few have needed to go to the hospital. Kids, of course, get sick, but they take it very well. Take care of your kid like when they have the flu, disinfect surfaces, etc.
As for “what do I do with my kids! School is cancelled!”
- Scholastic has some great free resources for school closures
- Many video game services are allowing people to stream/play longer for free/cheaper
- Google provides many free walk-throughs of famous museums
- There are many free concerts available online
- Many movies that would be in theaters are releasing for streaming
- Buy them Minecraft if they don’t already play
- check out these ideas or look at our list below
30 Self Isolation Ideas for you or your kids
- plan a trip – when this all blows over where do you want to go, how will you get there, what will you see each day?
- try a new video game (Minecraft, ARK Survival Evolved, Terraria, Human Fall Flat, Halo)
- start a blog
- get certified in something new for free online (like learn CPR, become a notary, or become a Dame/Knight of Sealand)
- make a stop motion animation or a Rube Goldberg machine
- volunteer for the UN from home (teach English online, organize schedules, write papers, organize fundraisers just with your cpu)
- binge watch something funny (Brooklyn 99, Parks and Rec or watch Youtube – Jenna Marbles, PewdiePie’s Minecraft Series, Let’s Game it Out)
- read all your old favorite books or read anything for free online (or read all the classics you always say you’ve read)
- teach yourself Excel or how to use your computer better (like basic coding to automate the boring stuff)
- follow a Bob Ross painting tutorial either with real paints, any colors, or on Microsoft Paint – a Spanish grandma paints on Paint for those thinking you have to go buy supplies
- try origami or napkin folding (or fold a dollar into a ring)
- learn to tie new knots, re-lace your running shoes for your foot, make a friendship bracelet, learn to knit or crochet
- organize your closet, re-purpose old clothes or try on new outfits
- relearn all the math you forgot with Khan Academy (free)
- learn a new language with Duolingo (free)
- binge watch all the video games you used to play at school with Whoa! I Remember That Game
- restore old furniture, do basic home improvements, deep clean your house (expired food, pull furniture out and dust/vacuum behind)
- make paper airplanes and aim at things or set up a mini-golf course in or around your house
- try easy gardening without a garden or from fruits/veggies you may already have
- learn to whistle loudly or with or without your hand (wash your hands first)
- bake something new/cook something new (or play Chopped at home and try to make something with the ingredients you have)
- make ice cream in a bag with table salt, ice, milk and sugar
- reconnect with someone write a letter to someone, skype, or call them.
- make salt clay and mold things or use real clay and make animals, beads, necklaces etc
- carve out the inside of an old book to hide a flask/money/wifi router
- play around on pinterest and save a bunch of gardening/house/car/fashion/recipes you’ll never think of again
- try new looks with makeup. Couples can give each other makeovers which is fun for men to see how much work goes into “natural looks.” Without a woman in the house we suggest drag but hey, it’s self isolation. At least paint your nails – baseball players do it, as did Babylonian warriors.
- do some light easy yoga or get a workout at home with Bloglates
- learn to juggle, spin a ball on your finger or party tricks (tie a knot in a cherry stem)try out some easy magic tricks
- digitize your photo albums, journals or books or organize all your photos on your computer
With 14 day isolation you could try 2 of these each day. Keep in mind Amazon is still delivering if you don’t have the right supplies.