|We are safer from Covid-19 outside, but avoid crowds!|
Personally, I know of several people who have been diagnosed with Covid-19. Four of them were Caucasian males in their 50s and 60s. Two of them died and their families are grieving, shocked by how suddenly and unexpectedly they lost a loved one. Two of them spent several days in a hospital and are now recovering at home. One had well-controlled diabetes, until he was exposed to Covid-19. The others were healthy prior to their diagnosis, and thought they were at low risk. Just this week, another woman I know shared on Facebook that she, too, had been diagnosed with Covid-19 after a visit to see her family in Arizona. Since none of us have a natural immunity to this virus, we are all at risk of getting it.
Could You Give Someone Covid-19?
In the July 20, 2020 issue of Time Magazine, there was a moving essay by Belinda Luscombe titled "We think we gave our neighbor Covid-19." Belinda lives in a New York City loft and briefly spoke with a neighbor who was moving. Although the neighbor was wearing a mask when he stopped by for a quick conversation, neither she nor her husband were wearing masks. Two days later, Belinda and her husband were diagnosed with Covid-19. Two weeks later, their neighbor texted them to say he had it, too. At the time she penned her essay, Belinda's neighbor was in the hospital and she was feeling guilty and worried that she and her husband might have given this disease to their neighbor before they had symptoms. She now feels remorseful that during a brief encounter, they may have caused a dear friend to develop a serious illness or, possibly, die. She regrets not putting on a mask during that short conversation.
Asymptomatic People Can Carry Covid-19
One of the most worrisome aspects of this coronavirus is that asymptomatic people can shed the virus without realizing it. They can pass it to others, even when they feel perfectly healthy. In fact, it is believed that one 25 year-old woman in China passed the virus to 71 other people after returning to China from the United States. She passed it to them after a single elevator ride, during which she did not encounter anyone else. How did that happen? After her flight back to China from the U.S., she promised authorities that she would self-quarantine until she had a negative result on a Covid-19 test. She went straight home and took the elevator to her apartment once, where she remained quarantined, ultimately learning that she had tested positive. Other people riding the elevator later that day became infected. Those people attended a party a few days later and exposed others. Ultimately, 71 people were exposed, and all the cases were traced back to that one woman and her single ride by herself on the elevator. This disease is extremely contagious. You can read more of the details about this incident here:
A Woman Gave Coronavirus to 71 People
It is a thought-provoking article about the risk we all face, particularly in poorly ventilated indoor spaces which could be used by other people.
Death is Not the Only Risk
Some people may feel that as long as they survive this virus, they have nothing to worry about. However, there are other consequences which are also very serious. According to a WebMD article on the coronavirus, survivors can expect other problems, including:
"Liver problems or damage, heart problems, kidney damage, and dangerous blood clots, including in their legs, lungs, and arteries. Some clots may cause a stroke."
"A few children and teens have been admitted to the hospital with an inflammatory syndrome that may be linked to the new coronavirus. Symptoms include a fever, rash, belly pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and heart problems. The syndrome, now being referred to as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C is similar to toxic shock or to Kawasaki disease, a condition in children that causes inflammation in blood vessels."
Some people who have survived continue to experience extreme fatigue and other health issues long after their initial symptoms. There have been reports of people remaining sick for months. Some have experienced neurological problems, including cognitive decline, brain fog, and nervous system disorders. Some have experienced hair loss, shortness of breath and memory loss. Unfortunately, the damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and other organs is likely to be permanent.
In other cases, patients have recovered and tested negative, only to become sick again. Doctors believe that some of them may have become reinfected just a couple of months after recovering from their initial bout with the disease. Others may have never fully recovered, despite their negative test results.
If these types of symptoms continue to happen to a large percentage of survivors, they will be unable to return to work again for months, if ever, and this will do further harm to our economy.
The United States cannot afford to let this disease run wild. It would do too much damage to our country, as well as devastate many families emotionally. Already, an estimated 1.5 million people are grieving the loss of someone in their family who has died. This number will only grow.
How Can You Avoid Getting or Passing on Covid-19?
Everyone has heard the basic rules repeated over and over. We should all stay home as much as possible, wear a face mask (Ad) when we must go out, and wash our hands frequently. However, many people are beginning to get bored with this strict regimen and are starting to cheat. Others never really followed it to begin with. Some people even have gone so far as to believe the virus is a hoax which cannot hurt them.
As a result, people are unintentionally exposing their friends and family to this disease, causing a huge spike in cases over the past few weeks.
Why do we risk the lives of the people we love? We rationalize that we know these friends well, or we rarely get to see them, or we are sure they have been careful, so it will be safe to get together. We miss seeing our adult children, grandkids and other family members, and can't wait to hug them whenever we do see them. After all, we are certain that we are healthy. We feel fine. We tell ourselves that enjoying a meal with friends in a restaurant should not be a problem. We don't want to be rude by turning down invitations to weddings, birthday parties, and other special events. We attend the funerals of friends and family. Sadly, in too many cases, people have been deceiving themselves and risking the lives of the people they care about the most.
We really need to hold firm until this virus either wears itself out, or we reach herd immunity (after 70% of people have had it), or there is an effective vaccine. Perhaps we will eventually benefit from all these factors, and we can get back to normal and move on. Until then, this virus will continue to exact a heavy toll on people we care about.
Meanwhile, the best protection for you and others is to avoid as many people as possible ... especially the ones you love! It is particularly dangerous to be indoors with anyone you do not live with. If you must have someone inside your home, you should both wear a mask and stay as far apart as possible. If you have a repairman in your home, keep your distance and even consider going into a separate room while they work. After they leave, disinfect everything they may have touched and, if possible, open doors and windows to air out the space.
Outdoor Spaces Appear to Be Safest
Several studies have indicated that your risk of catching or transmitting Covid-19 outdoors seems to be significantly lower, especially if you maintain an adequate physical distance. That is because the droplets and aerosol spray which people spread when they talk, sing, cough or sneeze are less likely to reach other people when they are outdoors. On the other hand, when indoors, the aerosolized droplets can remain in an enclosed space long enough to infect people for hours after the carrier has left!
Even when outdoors, however, it is wise to stay at least six feet or more away from anyone you do not live with, and wear a face mask. According to Time Magazine, July 20, 2020, a facemask "when used properly, can reduce transmission by somewhere between 50% and 85%." If you choose to wear an additional face shield, it can increase your protection even more, particularly from the direct spray of a cough or sneeze. Keep plenty of clean face masks and clear plastic face shields on hand so you are prepared for any encounter. (Ad) Have a designated outdoor space where you and others can socialize, while maintaining a safe distance. In this way, you can still see your family or a friend or two, as long as everyone is willing to respect the rules, stay outdoors, and play it safe.
Until this virus is defeated, we should treat everyone as though we have a very contagious disease, and they do, too! After all, we could be right.
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Photo credit: Beach photo taken by author