Even as many states are under a 'stay at home' order, the majority of us still have to venture out for food and supplies. This task is necessary and and it exposes us to risk, considering how easily COVID-19 spreads. The New York Times has put together an informative simulation showing how far not only the large droplets but also the tiny droplets (aerosols) can spread. Spoiler alert: it is much farther than 6 feet.
Are we doomed? Is it time for non-linear panic? No. Take a deep breath. We can do this. And we ARE doing it!
Wear Protective Gear
I went grocery shopping at Costco recently for an older friend who is very susceptible to lung infections. After putting on my mask, gloves and taking antiseptic wipes for the shopping cart, etc., I went in. At least half of people shopping were not wearing any kind of protective gear. Years ago a rowing coach, who would shout at motor boaters (all of whom were usually holding beer bottles) who breached the safety of river etiquette,"ARE YOU STUPID?"The boaters all gaped in fear (yes, she was that loud!) and changed course to avoid colliding with our scull (and probably skulls, too). Her explosive admonition probably saved us from injury on several occasions.
That same impulse to shout like the coach in Costco was hard to resist, but not everyone has the benefit of medical training. The general public has not experienced anything like this before in our lifetimes, but the medical profession has developed safety protocols to minimize the risk of disease transmission.This image on the right is a meme that made its way throughout Facebook. It serves as a rough guide to risks of transmission in three different scenarios. Need we say more?
Disinfect After Shopping
Once home from shopping, kick off those shoes before entering the house. Guess what they've been walking on? This was brought to our attention by someone (initials KM) who wrote a very thoughtful and necessary response to my protective measures blog. The writer made a valid point that I had missed in my post. Because people everywhere are coughing and sneezing, without masks, these droplets end up on the floor. He also pointed out that is why we see so many photos in the news of people decontaminating streets and floors.
Please feel free to contribute with comment to our blog posts. Your thoughtful comments may well contribute to the Greater Good!
At home, the easy solution is to take off your shoes (in addition to outer garments - keep a laundry bin handy for those outside the door) before coming inside, to minimize the contamination of your home.Treat outer clothing as contaminated. Remember the story about the med students in my previous post? That outer layer goes immediately into the washing machine. After that, all canned, boxed and bottled objects are sprayed with 50/50 solution of isopropyl alcohol and peroxide. If there are large cardboard boxes and since disinfection products are in short supply, the recommendation is to let those big cardboard boxes sit for at least 24 hours before handling again. Soap and water work well for bottles and cans. You can also place objects in sunlight for decontamination. If you're wearing gloves, peel them and trash them or disinfect them if they are in short supply. Now it's shower time.
In general, when you leave the house, remember to wash your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds) and don't touch your face or hair until your hands are clean. Remember the lesson from the previous post. In times of shortages, you can also decontaminate masks and gloves as well so you can reuse them.
If all of this is starting to sound tedious, welcome to the world of the laboratory, or the ER, or the patient examination room! This is what we professionals do on a daily basis! Physicians who are still seeing patients in person (as opposed to telemedicine) have designated 'sick rooms' now that get disinfected after every suspected COVID-19 patient.
So, I can tell you from personal experience that we can do this and it does work.
Let's Support Our Local Farmers!
This post began with a story about shopping at Costco. These big box stores are efficient narrowly focused supply chains for bulk packaged products, but our broader and more fragile fresh food supply chain was already endangered before this pandemic. Farmers are now plowing under highly nutritious vegetables just because they can't sell them in time. I drive out once a week to a CSA called Spade & Clover to support the small, often organic farmers. It's a long drive to Johns Island, but I do it because restaurants and farmers' markets where they would sell their crops are closed. If we don't support these hard working people who grow quality food (often organic), who will? Safely handling these fresh vegetables is easy. I rinse the vegetables in the sink with a teaspoon of bleach. Let them dry, then rinse off the bleach. It's the drying action that kills pathogens.
While the peak infection rate in South Carolina is still ahead of us, some regions are already on the road to recovery. Stay safe, follow the safety procedures we have outlined here and have hope! Our kindness and humanity are showing through more than they have in a very long while. The birds are still singing. And, a unique expression of love these days is when someone gives you a new roll of toilet tissue! Who'd a thunk?
So, let's all eat well, continue to exercise, stay positive, stay connected via phone, Skype or Zoom with those folks who are removed from us but still in our hearts and on our minds. Wellness is about getting many things right. Wellness is what makes our immune systems the best that they can be. Supplementation can cover areas we miss with diet.
If you are interested in physician-grade supplements, we can assess whether a customized supplementation regimen is right for you. Just contact Gesundheit Carolina to receive a streamlined 2-page new patient form. Our office will contact you for an initial appointment, address your main concerns, then you will be granted access to our patient-only portal to order what you need.
Stay tuned for more information on anti-viral nutrition, immune system bolstering and selected supplements that have evidence of anti-viral activity.
We are all in this together. Please encourage social distancing, hygiene, protective gear, common sense and good nutrition (the grocery ice cream freezers are suspiciously empty!), so we can come out of this together, and not fulfill the doom-and-gloom government statistics, but rather celebrate our humanity.
Gesundheit is a state of mind, spiritual and physical well-being