Am I Safe From Coronavirus?
Am I Safe From Coronavirus? What Can I Do?
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. Even though it has affected virtually everybody's life, some people will be more vulnerable than others. Even the groups of peopel that may be safe from coronavirus, are still responsible for providing the safety and well-being of those around them.
Fortunately children don’t appear to get sick to the same extent. A small portion even contract the virus in the first place, and for children who do happen to get sick, it’s often rare for them to develop a severe case. So far, there are no reports of COVID-19 related deaths from young children in china.
Researchers have some possible theories about why children are so immune to the virus. It can be possible that the lungs of children are less vulnerable to the infection, or perhaps they just have stronger immune systems. It’s best children should be handled cautiously because they can still be carriers of the virus, and pass it between themselves and other family members.
Chronic Health Issues:
Underlying health issues have a higher fatality rate for COVID-19:
- Chronic lung disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Heart conditions
People with chronic health conditions are at a higher risk of having a severe case of COVID-19. Approximately 1 out of every 10 people who had diabetes and contracted the disease died, as well as 8 percent for high blood pressure. CDC recommends people in this group to stay away from crowds, and keep at home, stocking up on medications if possible.
The vast majority of people who are younger and healthy usually won’t get seriously ill. This leads to many people throwing caution to the wind, but even if you do get sick, you could come into contact with others that are more at risk, and infect them with the virus. Staying indoors when feeling unwell is important for the safety of others. Being ordered to stay away from other people, in order to flatten the curve for the number of people who are sick may seem old-fashioned; However, it’s still the most effective way to slow down the spread of diseases such as COVID-19. Thus, it is the goal for non-essential businesses and event restrictions and closures.
Elderly: Data from the World Health Organization(WHO) tells us that people age 60 and older are at a much higher risk for contracting a much more severe case of COVID-19. The group that is most at risk is people aged 80 and older. There was a fatality rate of 15 percent in this age group, for a set of Chinese hospital patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that seniors should avoid gatherings and non-essential travelling altogether.
Old People / Nursing Homes
Nursing homes, also referred to as assisted living facilities(AFLs) by the CDC are at a high risk for COVID-19, and quick spreading that may affect each resident. Residents of AFLs are often older and tend to have chronic health conditions, putting them at an increased risk of serious illness. An interesting thing to take note of is that recent experiences are showing that many residents are not reporting typical symptoms such as fever or respiratory symptoms; some residents may not report any symptoms.
Because of symptoms being unrecognized and accounted for, the CDC attributes this to the significant spread that’s being witnessed in AFLs. To protect yourself, CDC recommends that the general public should use a cloth face covering when interacting with others. This is to prevent people from spreading the virus. Matter of fact, a face mask is not necessary if you’re not interacting with other people.
Recommendations for Protecting Assisted Living Facilities
If you or someone you love is staying at an Assisted Living Facility here are some guidelines given by the CDC that you can ask your caregiver about.
Educating Residents, and Personnel About COVID-19:
- Keeping a plan in place for regular communication between residents, staff, and family members the resident selects.
- Provide Information relating to COVID-19 and managing mental health issues.
Demonstrate actions that both residents, and personnel will be using to protect those in the facility: hand washing, social distancing, respiratory hygiene, cough and sneezing etiquette.
- Checking in on residents to remind them of public health authority advising the older demographic to stay home and limit physical interactions with other people. This includes social distancing, and keeping outside visitors from entering the facility. Also, when residents wander out of their room they should be wearing cloth masks if possible, even if they’re asymptomatic(showing no symptoms).
- Residents should be encouraged to immediately report symptoms relating to COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aching).
Keeping The Virus Outside the Facility
Preventing the virus from even entering the facility should be a top priority for ALFs. There are many measures recommended by the CDC to do this effectively.
- Residents should be asked to not allow outside visitors until told otherwise. The goal of these policies are to protect the resident, but also other vulnerable residents in the facility. Visitors should instead communicate through video conferencing or telephone calls.
- Keep an inventory of staff and volunteers at the facility. Then, use the inventory to figure out which services are non-essential and then delay them.
- Shut down non-essential staff-workers (barber, salon care).
- Post signs at entrances and exits to discourage outside visitors and staff to avoid entering the building if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
- If visitation must occur, keep clearly set visitation hours.
- Also, as part of control efforts, caregiver personnel should be wearing a safety mask, or cloth face mask covering while in the AFL. Facemasks are preferred over cloth, yet both protect the wearers from exposing infected cough or sneeze droplets towards others. Facemasks are usually preferred over cloth masks, but not in the case where it will take away supplies from medical personnel.
- At least one employee screening all incoming visitors and personnel for symptoms of COVID-19, before the beginning of each shift and upon arrival. If any staff or incoming visitors are showing fever symptoms and a temperature greater than 100.0°F or 37.30°F they should be sent home.
- Flexible sleep policies should be in place. Personnel that work in more than one location can be at higher risk of contracting the virus. Sick leave policies should be generous and not punishable.
- Residents of the facility shouldn’t leave unless it’s for medical purposes. Group field trips and related activities should be canceled indefinitely.
- Making sure that residents who absolutely need to leave the facility, are doing so with a cloth face covering.
Maintain Practices to Prevent and Control Infection:
- Hand hygiene. Providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer throughout the nursing home. Also, making sure sinks are supplied with sops and paper towels.
- The facility should have cleaning and disinfectant supplies on hand.
- Commonly used surfaces should be disinfected routinely (i.e. Door knobs, faucets, door handles).
- Groups activities should be canceled; meals should be brought to rooms; multiple set dining times to accommodate social distancing, for instance, two people per table.
- Implement a social distancing plan between residents. This means keeping 6 feet apart to prevent spread of the infection.
Dealing With Possible Residents Who May Have Been Infected
- The facility should have one or more employees to make sure every resident is checked for fever and other symptoms of COVID-19 —If they develop symptoms there should be a person they are supposed to contact.
- When a resident has a suspected or confirmed case of the virus, they should be isolated immediately, and public health officials should be notified.
- The elderly may show uncommon symptoms, instead of the typical fever or respiratory symptoms. These include: dizziness, diarrhea or fatigue. Once these symptoms are recognized the facility should enter prompt isolation measures.
In conclusion, adults over age 60-80 and people with underlying health conditions at any age may have a higher risk for a critical case of COVID-19.
Mental Health Issues
A Pandemic can throw your life into a tailspin, with all the different routines and lifestyle changes. You may also be concerned about getting sick, what it means for your future goals, and how long this pandemic will last. The constant stream of information, rumors, and conspiracy can make it feel as if the world is out of control, and you have no direction.
Because of this, you may experience mental health issues such as depression, stress, anxiety and loneliness. Also, pre-existing mental health disorders may become worse.
Self-care coping strategies for the coronavirus
Practicing self-care is both good for mental and physical health. Taking care of both body and mind will help improve your mental health during these times.
- Stick to a consistent schedule. Keeping a regular routine is a coping strategy that can help you de-stress. Furthermore, keep a routine for meal times, bathing, work schedules and at home exercise if applicable. Also, don’t forget to set time aside for leisure activities.
- Restrict exposure to news media sources. News media is yet another form of content that is meant to be consumed. Repetitive news about COVID-19 can increase feelings of fear regarding the disease. Social media are often the breeding ground for rumors and misleading information. You should check out for reliable sources from professionals such as the WHO and CDC.
- Keep yourself occupied. Allow yourself to be distracted, even with something that isn’t completely productive. If you’re a generally outdoorsy type, search for new hobbies that you can do at home. This could even be watching documentaries, or writing a blog about the things you used to do in the outside world.
- Try to think positive. This could simply mean using positive self-talk, versus dwelling on negative thoughts. Maintain a sense of hope, and try to focus on what you will get up to after this whole thing is said and dones.
- Lean on your belief system. In times of hardship, leaning towards your belief system can draw comfort during hardship.
- Set realistic goals and priorities. Set goals that are reasonable, and set an outline of actions you can take to achieve them. Give yourself credit for improvement every step of the way. Also, recognize that some days will be less productive than others.
Maintain Relationships and Communication
- Strengthen connections. Simply because you need to stay at home and distance yourself from others, doesn’t mean you should undergo social isolation. Find a period of time each day to connect. There are plenty of ways to connect: emailing, text, phone, video conferencing/calling.
- Help a person in need. It always feels good to make others feel good. Check in on friends, family, neighbours and especially those who are elderly. If you know someone that has a hard time getting groceries, ask if there’s something they need while you’re on the way to the store. Do this all while being within your local public health officials and the CDC/WHO guidelines.
Recognizing When Outside Help Is Needed.
Having a stressful reaction to the ever growing demands of life is completely normal. People process and react to hard times differently. Sometimes the constant challenges of daily life during the pandemic can make it hard to cope.
Regardless of you trying your best, you may still experience negative emotions: loneliness, sadness, sorrow, anxiety. This can show itself as having a hard time concentrating on certain tasks, or even a change in appetite or sleeping schedules.
These problems become an issue when they last for several days in a row, and if they make your daily life feel miserable. A tell-tale sign is when you can’t complete daily responsibilities and chores. When mental health problems begin to get worse, it is important to be upfront and get help when you need. You may want to get help by:
- Speak to a close friend, family member, or other trusted individuals
- Open up to a spiritual or religious leader or someone else in your faith community
- Call your primary health care provider or mental health professionals
- Speak to the national suicide prevention outline: 1-800-273-8255
Stephan Toure is a medical copywriter specializing in psychology, with a focus on helping people figure out what works for overcoming social anxiety, panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorders, and more.