A pandemic is no time to engage in propaganda. It is a very good time to look at specifics, without flinching. Here are some specifics, and all the links below are to actual subject experts, or credible, research-based resources, to learn more:
While news media has focused on the fatality rate, which has come down, Coronavirus has terrible knock-on effects that don’t go away afterward. These include organ fatigue, confusion, organ damage, blood clots, and more.
UPDATE: Wear a mask. Consensus has emerged that in public, procedure masks or makeshift masks (as opposed to specialized N95 surgical masks) ARE helpful. See UCSF’s omnibus, updated article on why masks work, what to look for, and even the history of why early messaging on masks was wrong: Still Confused About Masks? Here’s The Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus
When washing hands, plain soap and water is effective on most viruses including Coronavirus. Follow the WHO guide in the previous paragraph for technique.
Touch less stuff, or touch stuff less. Operate public touch-screens with your knuckle. Ditto for elevator buttons, phone buttons, credit-card readers, etc. Open door handles with the heel of your hand, not your fingertips. (I started doing this last trick because of arthritis, but now I can say I’m ‘using best practices’!) It should be noted that fomites (objects or materials likely to transmit pathogens), while important, are less of a factor with CV19. The main concern is airborne.
60% Alcohol hand sanitizer is effective, but only if you use it correctly with the same hand-rubbing technique that you use for thorough hand-washing. See page 2 of this WHO guide: Hand Hygiene: Why, How, and When. Also check out this graphic of common hand washing results.
Avoid touching your face if you can (this is hard for people with allergies*) and sanitize your hands more often if you can’t.
Adopt non-contact or limited-contact greetings. A fist-bump, a little bow, or even a nod + smile are far preferable to the disease-hand-off we call a “handshake”.
Gloves are not that helpful, at least not if you use them like some kind of magic talisman. Unsafe touching habits contaminate gloves just like anything else. Can be helpful if a skin-protection part of frequent sanitizing. This is just common sense, really.
Use disinfecting wipes on surfaces. Read the directions. The Coronavirus can last on surfaces up to 9 days but it’s pretty easy to kill. Be sure to include your own surfaces; your cell phone, laptop, doorknobs, office phones, light switches, public staplers, etc. Big, low-touch surfaces you can skip.
Cough into your elbow, not your hand. Coughing and sneezing releases tiny droplets that can carry the virus, linger in the air, or come to rest on surfaces. Keep your distance from others when you are sick. Stay home if you can, work at your desk if you can’t. Skip meetings. Now is the perfect time to indulge your anti-social tendencies.
- This post will be updated and edited as new information comes in or readers suggest sources and clarifications. Last updated on 28 March, 2020. Please discuss this post on Twitter and Facebook.
- Union of Concerned Scientists: Economic Recovery Depends On Overcoming the COVID-19 Pandemic
- LA Times: Mask offers much more protection against Coronavirus than many think.
- We Need Better Masks: surprisingly good discussion of masks from, of all places, Harvard Business Review
- The Genius of N95 Masks (video) on the interesting physics of masks
- Those masks with a valve on the front apparently don’t filter exhalation, which means they don’t work to protect those around you. Seems like an important point.
- “Not touching your face” is hard for people with allergies, people with anxiety disorders, and people socialized in ordinary society where we stroke our chins, rub our eyes, etc. There’s a lot to un-learn.
- For information on how to make masks, including volunteering to sew them, visit masksnow.org
- Trump is ignoring the lessons of the 1918 Flu pandemic that killed millions, historian says. The Washington Post interviewed John M. Barry, author of “The Great Influenza: the epic story of the deadliest plague in history”. Barry said things were made much worse by the government trying to “raise morale” and prevent bad news.
- Math misconceptions may lead people to underestimate the true threat of Covid-19 – The Conversation
- Countries that insist on commoditizing medical care, making it available only to those who can pay, will pay a terrible price. Ditto for countries that don’t have paid medical leave for all workers. People who can’t see a doctor, won’t. People who can’t take time off from work, won’t. Rich people feeling safe should think about who made their lunches; we truly are all in this together.