The last trip we made before the world shut down was to New York City, spending Leap Day 2020 in Times Square. Planes, trains and elevators — close quarters without contact precautions. From Reagan National, we flew to Newark Airport, took the Airtrain and a NJ transit train to Penn Station in NYC. We walked the streets, saw the sites, and toured the NY Public Library. We met my co-blogger and her husband for drinks at The View, a revolving rooftop lounge on 48th floor of the Marriott Marquis, and saw “Jersey Boys” on Broadway [CURRENTLY CLOSED]. The next day, we walked the High Line [CURRENTLY CLOSED], an elevated hiking trail along the Hudson River before heading home.
We had heard about the virus, but didn’t really understand. Crammed elbow-to-elbow with a coughing passenger in a packed elevator, the virus seemed remote, not something that was going to bring lives and the country to a standstill. How clueless – and how lucky — we were. So many opportunities for contagion. We dodged that bullet.
Where were you when the known world ended? Unlike watching planes hit the Twin Towers or learning that JFK was shot, the virus was like a rip tide — seemingly innocent on the surface, but an invisible menace. Over the ensuing months, we’ve learned how much we are at its mercy.
We know more now than we did then. We know contagion results from a combination of time and amount of exposure. We’ve become conversant in the vocabulary of epidemiology. But testing, tracing, and treatment are mostly outside individuals’ control. Testing is still limited with uncertain reliability. Few government agencies seem to have actually implemented programs for tracing contacts of infected individuals. And surviving severe symptoms and hospitalization seems a bit like winning the lottery, without the celebratory champagne.
Rather than testing, tracing, and treating, consider things you can do to minimize susceptibility and lessen the spread of coronavirus. Prevention is better than cure. Use the tools at your disposal: hygiene, housekeeping, and health.
Hygiene: Your mother was right: “Wash your hands.” Washing and keeping your hands away from your face help prevent infection. Wear a mask outside and when you’re around people who aren’t in your close circle. Listen to public health experts — masks deter spread of the virus. To protect yourself and others, act as though you’re infected. Set the example. Wearing a mask is a sign of respect, like covering your mouth when you cough. The life you save might be yours or that of someone you love.
Housekeeping: Wipe down the surfaces you touch regularly — knobs, handles, electronics. While you’re more likely to pick up the virus from another person, don’t take chances. Spray a cloth with cleaner and use that to open the frig door. Make regular cleaning a habit.
Health: COVID overwhelms the pulmonary system. Susceptibility increases with age and as a result of chronic illnesses that compromise the lungs. Obesity, which is a risk factor for diabetes and other ailments, and tobacco use contribute to vulnerability. But, these are also tough behaviors to tackle. What baby step can you take right now to boost your immunity and improve your health? Take a walk, or just march in place while you’re watching television. Also remember: food is fuel. Set yourself up for success by having menus planned, dinners prepped, and raw veggies prepared for quick, nourishing snacks.
Having a plan helps you feel in control. Hygiene and housekeeping are low-hanging fruit — simple and sustainable habits to establish. Improving health is a more challenging undertaking, so focus on just one thing that you can improve. And lastly, don’t forget another H word — humor. Find something to laugh about; it helps to relieve the feeling of danger. Share jokes with others. Someday, we’ll be past this, but for now this is life and we can choose how we respond. Change your lifestyle; save your life.
© Joan S Grey, 26 JUNE 2020 ∞
IndexCardCure™: Small changes over time make a big difference