On February 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an update to the status of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus in the United States. Although there have been approximately 60 cases of the disease in the U.S. So far, the federal government, and only one from an unknown source, warns that Americans should prepare for an outbreak of the coronavirus – or possibly a pandemic. This may sound alarming, but it is not a signal to buy large quantities of surgical masks or to lock yourself up indoors. Mental Floss spoke to an expert about what to expect when the new corona virus spreads in the United States, how you can best protect yourself and your community, and what “security practices” you should avoid.
If the word pandemic reminds you of a scene from a post-apocalyptic film, give yourself a reality check. The World Health Organization defines pandemic as "the worldwide spread of a new disease". In other words, it describes the range and infection rate of a virus, not how deadly it is. "The word pandemic has been used to discuss how this outbreak can develop, and although it can be scary, pandemics are not always fatal," said Caitlin Wolfe, a doctoral student at the University of College of Public South Florida health says Mental Floss. (Wolfe was a former WHO epidemiologist, but her statements are her own.)
On February 23, the CDC reported 78,811 cases of COVID 19 and 2462 deaths worldwide. In some cases, patients with the disease show no symptoms at all, and it is still unclear what percentage of the infected people are symptomatic. Even if an expert suggests that 40 to 70 percent of all people could get the new coronavirus within a year, it says nothing about how many people will die or even experience symptoms.
Instead of getting annoyed by sensational headlines, Wolfe recommends reading trusted sources. "Stay informed. Check with local and state health officials about what is going on in your area. Health officials here in the United States have been very active in sharing information about this new virus as it becomes available," she says. The Coronavirus website the CDC is an excellent place to start.
2. Get the basics.
During the recent coronavirus update, the CDC warned Americans to prepare for everyday disruptions, and this doesn't just mean potential quarantines for people away from schools or offices, but also food and supply shortages, as economies around the world are dealing with the consequences. The most important item you need to replenish is medication. "The FDA commissioner announced that this outbreak, though he has not been seen before, likely affecting the medical supply chain te will have, "says Wolfe. "In the event of a lack of medication, people should try to ensure that they have all the medication they need for 30 days if refilling their prescriptions is delayed."
Once this is done, start stocking – perishable foods, toiletries and other items for your home. Wolfe specifically recommends handkerchiefs with the reminder that they should always be thrown away immediately after use. As with medication, it is ideal to have enough essential supplies to last a month.
. 3 If you are healthy, leave the mask at home.
Medical masks have already become a symbol for the outbreak of the coronavirus. After unprecedented demand in China, there are currently bottlenecks worldwide. However, it is not necessary to order a mask package online for four times the regular cost. According to Wolfe, wearing a mask outdoors cannot prevent you from becoming infected with the corona virus: “Wearing a mask in public when you are healthy, especially the frequently used surgical masks, is not useful. These masks fit too loosely around the face to block the inhalation of virus particles. “Wearing such equipment can only be worthwhile if you already feel sick. "Wearing a surgical mask when you are is a good idea because it can help reduce the amount of germs that you transmit to others," says Wolfe.
. 4 Buy alcohol-based cleaners and hand sanitizers.
When purchasing items for disinfecting yourself and your home, make sure that alcohol is listed as an ingredient. Alcohol-based cleaning sprays and wipes can kill the corona virus. It should also be the main ingredient in your hand sanitizer. According to Wolfe, “hand sanitizer is fine if necessary, but make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol.” Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to keep your hands clean.
The protective properties of alcohol do not apply to viruses that have already entered the body. Therefore, do not use the public health hazard as an excuse for alcohol excess and never use detergents or spray on the skin.
. 5 Spend more time washing your hands.
The easiest way to protect yourself against coronaviruses and viral infections in general is to improve your hand wash. A 2018 U.S. Department of Agriculture study found that Americans don't wash our hands properly in 97 percent of cases. The minimum time for washing hands recommended by the CDC is 20 seconds or about two full plays of Happy Birthday. You should wash with warm soapy water, scrub all parts of your hands and wrists, and dry with a clean towel. Washing up before and after preparing food and after using the bathroom is essential. In the event of a pandemic, however, you should wash your hands as often as possible.
. 6 Stop touching your face.
This hand washing statistic is even more worrying, combined with the fact that people can touch their faces up to 52 times a day. "Resist the urge to touch your face," says Wolfe, "because you hand-release all the germs on your hands exactly where they can get into your body."
. 7 Stay home when you are sick.
If you feel sick, do a favor to the members of your community and stay home. This applies to both children who go to school and adults who work outside the home. If you are not familiar with the health insurance of your workplace, ask for it now, even if you feel healthy. And if you're a parent, now is the time to develop a childcare plan if your child has to stay at home sick during the day or if the schools are temporarily closed.
. 8 Get your flu shot if you haven't already.
The best time to get a flu shot is early in the season, but late is better than never, especially when the coronavirus threat increases. "They don't want to go to the hospital with the flu during another outbreak," says Wolfe. "You risk exposing yourself and your loved ones to resources that could be diverted if the coronavirus broke out." On the CDC website, you can search for providers of flu shots by zip code.