As we all deal with disruptions to everyday life due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please be assured that I’m closely following guidance from state and local public health officials and government agencies. I encourage my clients and their families to stay informed and follow credible sources for up-to-date information about the virus in their community. In particular, I recommend information posted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) websites.
Unfortunately, rumors, mixed messages, and misinformation about the virus has led many people to panic-buy and hoard supplies, including surgical masks. As a result, equipment needed for healthcare professionals working on the front lines, including face masks and medical respirators (surgical N95), are in short supply. Medical respirators are recommended only for use by healthcare personnel who need protection from airborne and fluid hazards.
The WHO advises that face masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-washing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based rub. If you’re healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you’re taking care of a person with a suspected COVID-19 infection. People can also wear a face mask to protect others if they’re coughing or sneezing. I’m seeing more and more people out in public wearing masks and gloves. It’s important to know how to use a face mask and dispose of it properly.
“Shelter-in-place” hasn’t been easy for seniors and their families. Moreover, the lock-down of nursing facilities in many states is of great concern to families who can no longer visit their loved ones in person. These restrictions are necessary to protect vulnerable people from serious illness. The CDC recommends the following to help reduce the spread of the virus:
- Take everyday precautions to keep 6 feet of space between yourself and others. Limit close contact, wash your hands often, disinfect frequently used items and surfaces, and avoid touching your face.
- Avoid social gatherings in groups of 10 or more
- Avoid non-essential travel.
- During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce the risk of being exposed.
- Keep basic necessities on hand. (Not always easy given the shortages of certain items such as toilet paper). Try to use grocery delivery if possible, and online services.
- If you feel sick, stay home. Many healthcare clinics are now asking people to use tele-health services instead of coming in.
This crisis will eventually pass, but in the meantime, we can all do our part to stay informed and help prevent the virus from spreading. It’s especially important to take care of your health, use common sense, and stay calm.