Advice for Those Most Vulnerable to COVID-19

 

The United States has been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than any other country.

We have approximately 25 percent of the world’s confirmed cases. Despite having less than 5 percent of the world’s population.

It can be argued the U.S. does more testing than other countries. But even if additional global testing dropped our cases to 20 percent, it would still be far too high. Either way, 140,000-plus deaths are unacceptable.

We’ll leave it to historians to determine why America suffers with the coronavirus more than other nations. Right now, let’s look at how the most vulnerable among us can stay safe until we get this thing under control.

Precautions for protection

Older Americans and those with certain underlying health conditions are at the greatest risk.

It’s assumed our immune systems are the culprit. They weaken over time. Not a lot we can do about that if we’re among those high-risk groups.

But something we can do is take precautions to try to avoid infection. Let’s examine some of the ways we can attempt to protect ourselves.

My guess is you are already doing most of these. But it can’t hurt to be reminded. And maybe there will be a couple you can incorporate into your life.

Social distancing

Let’s start with the easier stuff. Stay at home as much as possible. Yes, this can get very tiresome after a while. Especially for extroverts.

But developing a new hobby or focusing on an old one can make those indoor hours more bearable. And long walks once or twice a day can give you fresh air you need.

Stay at least six feet away from those you see when you’re out. No one is going to be offended if you don’t shake hands or hug them. (Actually, they might be offended if you do.)

If you have to be in a group of people, make sure it’s a very small group. Five or six people, tops.

Practice good hygiene

Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. For at least 20-30 seconds each time. Especially after coming in from outside. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Or use the inside of your elbow. Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in your home.

Stock up on needed supplies. Arrange to have your groceries, medicines and other items delivered.

Most places have delivery service these days. If not, perhaps a younger family member or friend can make some of these deliveries.

Your home, not theirs

Try to stay out of other people’s homes. This is especially challenging when you feel desperate to connect with family and friends.

Those folks might feel fine. But you never know who they may have been in close contact with. Plenty of people carrying the virus are asymptomatic.

But they could still unwittingly pass the virus along to you in their homes. It’s not worth the risk.

If you are visiting friends or family members in their homes, don’t share food and drinks being passed around.

Face Masks work

Wear a facemask. Yes, I know they can be uncomfortable. I realize they can be inconvenient.

But there is enough data to indicate they work. And they are being worn much more regularly in countries handling the virus better than we are.

It’s a good idea to wear a mask anytime you are in an enclosed area with other people. Such as at a store.

A number of stores have made mask-wearing mandatory. Including Walmart, Target, Menards and others.

Statistics don’t lie

The primary way to contract COVID-19 is through close contact with an infected individual via respiratory droplets.

These droplets can be transmitted through coughing and sneezing. As well as singing, laughing and talking. Even breathing.

Between mid-April and mid-May, the virus was really starting to make significant inroads in the U.S.

States mandating masks in public saw a greater decline in transmission rates than states that did not.

Low to high risk activities

A group of Texas doctors made a list of activities ranging from low to high risk during the pandemic. Here are some of those activities.

Low risk: opening mail, getting restaurant carryout, pumping gas, playing tennis.

Moderate-to-low: sitting in a doctor’s office, grocery shopping, visiting a library, eating at a restaurant (outdoors).

Moderate risk: attending a backyard barbeque, going to a beach, shopping at a mall, swimming in a public pool.

Moderate to high risk: going to a barbershop or hair salon, eating at a restaurant (indoors), attending a wedding or funeral, traveling by plane.

High risk: eating at a buffet, working out at a gym, going to an amusement park, going to a bar, going to a concert or sports event.

So, what can I do?

None of us knows how long this “new normal” will last. It’s looking more like a marathon than a sprint.

Maintaining social distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing are already starting to feel old.

But the most vulnerable among us need to do whatever it takes to stay healthy and safe. So, lets…

  • Keep in touch with family and friends via social media, video chats, texts and phone calls.
  • Go for walks and do light exercising outdoors at least once a day.
  • Keep your home’s windows open as much as possible.
  • Focus on activities you enjoy but perhaps felt you never had enough time for before. Such as reading, cooking and playing a musical instrument.
  • If you can’t get outside much or at all, consider adding more Vitamin D to your daily regimen if your doctor approves.

I can say with confidence that we’ll get through this. But it’s going to take a while. Let’s do what we can to keep ourselves and others safe.

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