As the country and the world grapple with an unprecedented health crisis, it is especially important for the patient and health community to be informed about the coronavirus and about the steps your communities and states are taking to try to limit transmission.
WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY
Regardless of what anyone tells you,
It has seeped into the public consciousness that the flu kills thousands of people every year, and so the coronavirus we are dealing with now is nothing more serious. Here are the differences:
- COVID-19 is NOT "just like the flu," and
- Yes, young people can get really, really sick from COVID-19.
Being young and healthy does not make you invincible. A study released by the Centers for Disease Control found that a surprisingly greater number of young people are getting sick form the coronavirus than previously thought.
- The fatality rate from COVID-19 is much higher. The seasonal flu kills 0.1% of those who become infected. Compare that with the estimated fatality rate of about 2% of those infected with the COVID-19 virus who will die. That is 20x as much.
- The COVID-19 coronavirus spreads much faster. Every person infected, without strong measures to prevent transmission, infects 2.2 people on average. On average, someone with a seasonal flu passes it onto 1.3 people.
Combine 1 and 2 above, and this means if we don't check it, the COVID-19 will spread and kill people at 33 times the rate of the seasonal flu. This could seriously overwhelm our health care systems, and if that happens, it will not only mean more sickness and death from COVID-19 but from other illnesses as well as our health care system starts having to triage and turn away people suffering from all conditions.
- There is a vaccine for the flu! It isn't perfect, but the seasonal flu vaccine is for the most part effective. No vaccine exists for COVID-19 yet, and since this virus is new, there is no pre-developed immunity for it in the human population.
So, regardless of how old you are, how great you feel, or how confident you are that you can personally beat anything that comes your way, take this seriously.
- 20% of those hospitalized from COVID-19 are between 20 and 44 years of age, by comparison, 35% of those hospitalized are over 65.
- Young people are more likely to have undiagnosed underlying conditions that make them susceptible to COVID-19,
- Lastly, even if you don't get sick, you could still be a carrier and end up passing it onto someone you love.
Basics of COVID-19
For up-to-date information about the status of the COVID-19 virus here in the United States, please visit the Centers for Disease Control.
While the novel coronavirus is not, in most cases, fatal, those with underlying medical conditions - and especially those with a compromised immune system - and seniors over 65 are at a particularly high risk of becoming ill and fatalities. Because the virus spreads so rapidly from person-to-person, patients and those who care for loved ones who are patients - regardless of the situation in your state or community - are strongly advised to do the following:
- If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your medical professional right away. Call, go online, or contact through an app if at all possible.
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, use hand sanitizer when soap is unavailable, and wipe down electronics and frequently used surfaces with a disinfectant cloth.
- Stay at home to the extent possible. Don't you have some binge watching on Netflix to catch up on?
- Practice social distancing: Stay 6 feet apart from others, especially when you're out.
- Avoid large gatherings: even if your local public health authority has not placed a stay-at-home order, avoid public gatherings of 10 or more people.
- Practice good hygiene: You should always do it anyway, but it's more important now. Sneeze or cough into your elbow, wash your hands, wipe down surfaces.
Being a Good Neighbor with COVID-19: Put Your Empathy To Use
How well we cope with the coronavirus will depend on whether we are willing to be good community members. Remember the following rules:
- BE CIRCUMSPECT WHEN YOU SHARE INFORMATION: The Internet spreads misinformation just as quickly as it spreads good information, maybe faster. Before you share information, make sure it is backed up with authoritative sources (such as reputable research, the CDC, your state's health authority, etc). Bad information can put lives at risk.
- Hoarding is hurting: This is a public health battle, not the zombie apocalypse. The supply chain remains intact, and your grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and even takeout restaurants will continue to function just fine. Do not clear out Costco shelves of toilet paper. Get all the fresh fruits and vegetables you need for your home, but leave some for the next person.
- Be Kind to those working: The people working at your local grocer, health care facility, the people bringing you your food delivery are out there doing it so you don't have to. Be kind to them, show appreciation, and say 'thank you' (from 6 feet away).
- Racism isn't funny: Mocking, attacking, or disrespecting your Asian American neighbors is not acceptable just because we are in the middle of a pandemic. We need to pull together; not split up. The coronavirus does not cause racism, fear does. Let's not be afraid.
Accessing Resources and Response Specific to Your State and Community
In the coming days, People with Empathy will cover specific responses in California, Washington, New York, and other key states. You can, however, access information and resources in any state through the CDC's tracking page.