The corona virus 2019 disease (COVID-19) is caused by a new virus which was first identified in December 2019. This is a different variant of the typical coronavirus and much is still yet to be understood about it. The good news is that from what we have observed so far most individuals who become infected are either asymptomatic or have a very mild case of the illness. Only about 20% of individuals become severely ill from this infection. Less than 5% require critical care in the hospital. Those at greatest risk for becoming very ill with this disease are the elderly above 65 years old and anyone with a chronic health condition including diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. Less than 2% of cases so far have involved children so it seems that this is more of a condition affecting adults.
It is expected that most Americans will be exposed to this virus sometime this year or next. It is going to be important to have a plan of action if this virus infects you or someone in your home. The Centers for Disease Control gives very helpful guidelines for families to review and be prepared.
Here are a few tips:
1. Stay informed of local infections in your community. I routinely check the websites for the health department of my local town and state. Everyday I look for CDC updates for the most accurate information on the virus and disease spread.
2. Plan for ways to care for those at greatest risk in your home and community. Identify the elderly and those with significant heart and lung problems as well as uncontrolled diabetes and cancer. These individuals are the ones most at risk for a bad experience with COVID -19. Regularly check on your elderly and compromised neighbors by phone. If you are in good health try to make yourself available to drop off medicines and groceries to their door and allow them to stay inside. Encourage them to always keep their phone accessible so they can call for help and also that others can check on them easily.
3. Items to have on hand in your home:
- at least one full months supply of all prescription medicines
- enough water, (a gallon /day/person ) and non- perishable food in the home for at least 4 weeks (rice, beans, canned veggies)
- a functioning thermometer (make sure the one you have still works.)
- face masks and disposable gloves for when someone falls sick
- Garlic and lemons (I always keep these two super foods in my house especially during the winter with increased viral exposure)
- vegetable and bean soups (make in advance and freeze in serving sized portions to have easily available when sick)
4. Choose a room in your house that can be used to separate sick household members from others. The individual who is sick should have there own place of isolation during the course of their illness. They should not share a bed or bathroom with anyone else. They should also not share any hygiene products, towels, rags or eating utensils. The sick as well as the care provider should wear masks in the home to limit spread of the virus. To increase the air quality in the sick room place a green plant there and open all windows for cross ventilation and to improve air circulation. Make sure the rest of the home that is shared space is also well ventilated by opening windows for fresh air. Encourage the sick individual to get sun exposure by being close to the window at some period of time during the day.
5. Perform hand hygiene frequently. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
6. Wash laundry thoroughly. Handle the sick individuals dirty laundry with disposable gloves. All the families laundry can be done together but should be done with laundry detergent and with the warmest water temperature. They should then be well dried with high dryer temperatures as well.
7. Maintain a healthy plant based diet for the family. Minimize sugary drinks and foods significantly. This is important for the sick and everybody else in the home. High sugary diets weaken the immune system ( read Poisoning the front liner). Increase whole grains like rice and oats, starchy roots like yams and potatoes. Have lots of beans and peas and as far as possible have an abundance of vegetables and fruits available for the entire family. These foods will assist your body in the fight against the virus by helping you lessen the intensity and length of the illness. (Read “Corona recipes” for more ideas of remedies to help during a viral illness).
8. Keep a cheerful and positive attitude in the home. During these times of increased strain and stress a negative and grumpy mood can break the backs of everyone. Encourage laughter even when there is nothing obvious to laugh about. These are unusual times with sanctions and enforced social isolation. Everyone is feeling the strain and pressure of this twilight zone. Right now family is all we have. Let’s make the best of this experience, lifting each other up, supporting each other in love and binding together as never before. We will get through this together.
Wishing all our families godspeed in these uncharted waters