What do you feel when you hear or read the words “coronavirus” or “pandemic”? Does your heart quicken, your pulse race, and your anxiety rise?
You are not alone.
Most of us become unsettled at the thought of a viral invader potentially accosting our communities and loved ones, not to mention our own need for self-preservation being triggered.
You hear that (at the time of this writing) over 30,000 cases of this coronavirus have appeared in China, with over 600 fatalities. Travelers entering the United States from China are being quarantined. You wonder how many have slipped through and how long it will be before the virus reaches your front door.
How do you preserve your peace during this potential pandemic?
First, let’s look at the truth behind this virus and pandemics. Then, we will explore some ways you can maintain your peace.
You’ve already been exposed to a type of coronavirus, but this one is different.
There are four types of coronaviruses, which cause the common cold, that circulate around the globe. Most of us have been exposed to all of them as children and may experience milder, shorter infections as adults. We go about our lives, coughing and sniffling, not thinking too much about them.
Then two other more virulent and deadly coronaviruses appeared on the global scene over the past two decades: SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). SARS was traced to civet cats, had a death rate of 10%, with only 8,000 cases recorded spread among 17 countries. MERS was traced to camel meat, had a much higher death rate of 35%, but only 2,500 people were affected.
This new coronavirus, recently named COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is more virulent than SARS or MERS, meaning it is more easily caught. But, that is GOOD news. The general rule in the medical community is that the more deadly the virus, the harder it is to catch. Plus, #COVID19 appears to be much less severe than its two predecessors. It is too early to calculate the death rate, but early indicators show it to be around 3%.
COVID-19 has an average incubation period of five days but can take as long as 14 days. After week one, you will experience cold and flu-like symptoms, including coughing and sneezing. By week three, you should be free of the illness. From a symptom perspective, COVID-19 is no different than the flu.
Yes, COVID-19 may become a pandemic, but will most likely not affect you.
A pandemic is a new infectious disease that has worldwide spread; a disease against which we have no innate immunity.
Governments (including ours) are already taking steps to protect us from COVID-19. While the medical community does not currently have antivirals to combat COVID-19, the spread of the virus is being curtailed through quarantines and standard preventive health care practices. At the time of this writing, there are only 34 cases reported in the USA.
Currently, based on CDC statistics, your chances of contracting #COVID19 are just a hair above zero.
Unless you are over 65 years old and immunocompromised, you most likely will not perish from COVID-19.
Last year, the CDC estimated that 40,000 citizens died from the flu. In 2018, the death rate of 61,000 was the worst in a decade.
During the 2018-2019 flu season in the USA, roughly 75% of all flu-related deaths were individuals aged 65+. Approximately 17% were between the ages of 50 and 64. These two age groups comprise 91% of flu-related deaths.
But you need to drill down and look more closely at the health of these individuals. Most of them had an array of preexisting conditions that left their immune systems severely compromised.
Reports from China echo this: most of the victims were already in poor health. Some report that the median age of those who succumbed to COVID-19 is 75 years old.
Will there be as many deaths in the USA as in China? Chances for that are very slim. Most of those who die in foreign countries perish from secondary infections due to inferior medical care. Such secondary infections are mostly and widely treatable in the US.
Avoid the media if you want to maintain your peace.
In the world of media, sex sells. So does an epidemic. Many of the media outlets are using responsible reporting when it comes to COVID-19. However, many Internet outlets and social media outlets are using fear-inducing headlines by including the word “deadly” with Coronavirus. Hello – viruses do kill people.
It does not help to quell fear by seeing pictures of Chinese doctors in hazmat suits, rubber gloves and surgical masks treating suspected COVID-19 patients. Such images are used to evoke emotions within the viewer to attract them to listen or read more about the virus and its potential health consequences.
If you find that you are feeling fearful and anxious after seeing or hearing reports of COVID-19, then circle back to the truth: measures are in place to contain the virus; COVID-19 is not as deadly as SARS or MERS; most COVID-19 deaths are among the aged who are already in poor health, and the virus can be warded off by using good preventive health practices.
Preventive health measures will help you stay healthy and reduce your chances of contracting COVID-19.
Want to improve your chances of avoiding COVID-19 and staying healthy and at peace in light of this potential pandemic? The Centers for Disease Control suggest you simply practice good preventive health measures, just as you would facing any flu outbreak:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
And should you contract the flu or #COVID19, the CDC recommends that you:
- Stay home if you are sick – you don’t want to risk infecting others
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
- Wash your hands more often, especially prior to eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- If you must be around others, be sure to wear a surgical-grade mask or one that seals tightly over the nose (suggestion: N95 respirator mask)
- If you are advanced in years and/or have a compromised immune system, and your symptoms worsen, seek medical attention immediately