Because the effects of the COVID-19, a strain of the Coronavirus, are escalating and changing rapidly, some of what is contained below will be outdated by the time you read it. Hopefully, in the very near future, this article will become completely useless and irrelevant. But unfortunately, this information is very relevant as I write it today. Many are not taking the threat of this virus very seriously and are not practicing social distancing. The goal here is to help people understand social distancing, what it means, and why it's critically important that we practice it.
The main issues with the COVID-19 virus are that people’s immunity to it is low and there is no vaccine or cure. It may not kill everyone that gets it, but as of today, the death rate is close to 3.9% according to WorldoMeters.info.
To put that percentage into perspective, let’s look at the H1N1 virus outbreak in 2009. Between 700 million and 1.4 billion people (11% to 21% of the global population) worldwide contracted H1N1. According to the CDC, between 151,000 and 575,000 died as a result. The death rate from H1N1 was between .0002% and .0004%. If the same number of people worldwide contract COVID-19, the number of deaths (at the current death rate of 3.9%) will be between 27 million and 55 million.
Also, something unique to note about H1N1 versus the coronavirus is that H1N1 did not disproportionately affect those over 60 years of age. COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on those over 60 in terms of the death rate.
What If We Don’t Contain COVID-19?
So, it is very important that we contain this virus to prevent deaths to our population, both older and younger. The Coronavirus is also having a dramatic impact on the world economy in the short term. The long-term impact is unknown. And, as we have seen in Italy, and is a concern in other countries like Germany, hospitals are overwhelmed. There are not enough health care workers or equipment to treat all patients. Sadly, doctors are having to let some die to care for those that have a better chance of living.
Social Distancing is Our Greatest Asset
But here is the most important fact to know about this virus. Our healthcare professionals, from our nurses and doctors who are risking their lives, to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), have no way of controlling the spread of this virus. There is one known way and one way only to slow the spread of COVID-19 as of right now. That is for everyone to practice social distancing. If we simply stay away from each other the disease will not be able to spread at its current rate. (As of March 16, 2020, the number of known cases worldwide of the coronavirus in the last 7 days has increased 51.7%)
Social Distancing is Not Giving in to Fear, It’s Common Sense
Practicing social distancing is not about giving in to fear. It’s about stopping the spread of the disease. It’s about social responsibility and common sense. It takes on average 5 days for someone to feel the symptoms of the Coronavirus. Hopefully, after they feel those symptoms, they will self-quarantine either at home or in a health care facility. The issue is how many people they come in contact within those 5 days before they feel the symptoms.
My wife and I went to our local produce store yesterday. We need to buy food, right? Immediately I felt uncomfortable. Yes, Shirley brought a spray sanitizer for the grocery cart handle. But when we walked in, I saw about a dozen people leaning over racks of uncovered produced handling many different individual items before they chose the freshest or most ripe one. If someone who had been infected and didn’t yet know it had been in there handling fruit or perhaps had sneezed, this produce market had become a petri dish for COVID-19. From here on we will be using InstaCart until this virus is under control. And, yes we washed what we bought very thoroughly.
Be Alert When You’re Around Others
Realize that even people with good intentions are not perfectly conscious all the time with what is going on around them. Especially when in a group setting. And when there's alcohol involved as in a club, bar or restaurant. No one is perfectly conscious all the time of what they touched, or who they touched. That's reality.
If the virus drops or is transferred by someone's hand it can survive on metal or plastic surface for at least 12 hours. On fabric it can survive for 6-12 hours. The WHO warns that COVID-19 can last on some surfaces for up to several days. If someone that is infected sneezes, it takes about 10 feet before it drops to the ground affecting everything in its path. Think of all the surfaces we come in contact with, money, wood, cardboard, etc. The range that the virus survives on those surfaces can vary from hours to days.
Don't presume or assume! If you have to leave home, be socially smart and responsible. Be conscious to wash your hands continuously & bring hand sanitizer with you.
Why Restaurants Are Being Closed
I see people posting that they’re upset that some states in the U.S. have closed restaurants and they want to go out to eat. Please note that according to France's health and safety agency, ANSES, "In light of the scientific knowledge available, ANSES has suggested transmission through food could occur if a person with the virus prepares or handles food with dirty hands - and contaminates it."
One suggestion I saw on Facebook was to use a service like GrubHub or UberEats. Personally, we won’t be doing that as I don’t know the condition of the person that made or boxed my food. Again, they may not be conscious of the fact that they have been exposed. But using a service like this will satisfy those that absolutely need to eat restaurant food.
Keep in Mind That It’s Temporary
Everything that we are going through from social behavior changes to the economy is temporary. there will be long-lasting effects, but the constrictions of social distancing are temporary. It’s all about perspective and mindset. Embrace what you can do differently and actually enjoy a simpler life for a few weeks. If you find yourself getting caught up in the drama on social media, don’t go on social media. Just keep in mind that life, although perhaps a bit different in the future, will for the most part return to normal soon. If it takes a few months, think of how quickly the last few months have gone by.