After a serious nuts-and-bolts post on Wednesday about surviving possible Census fraud, I had intended a lighter, more fun post today but world events have intervened.
As happens with many infectious diseases, the hardest hit, those who suffer the largest number of fatalities, are old people. In the research attending the Corona virus, that is abundantly clear again.
Ian M Mackay is an Australian virologist who keeps a website called Virology Down Under which has the best information I've seen about the Corona virus including general interest and advice.
(Thank you to Jan Adams who blogs at Where is the Way Forward?)
On Tuesday, Mackay published an extensive (and easily understandable) story on this not-yet-pandemic.
Here is the chart – numbers as of 11 February 2020:
People with underlying serious conditions such as heart disease or diabetes (often old people) are more susceptible to the virus than younger people.
According to one health expert, a vaccine is not possible for a year to a year-and-a-half and, some say, it is currently questionable if it would be affordable.
On Thursday, the White House announced that all U.S. government health officials and scientists are required to clear all public appearances and statements with Vice President Mike Pence's office, according to The New York Times which also reported,”Officials insist the goal is not to control the content of what subject-matter experts and other officials are saying, but to make sure their efforts are being coordinated, after days of confusion with various administration officials showing up on television.”
Given the questionable data from China along with the contradictory statements about the spread of the virus from the president, as contrasted with the health experts at Wednesday's press conference, it's obvious we the people are on our own for needed information.
In a situation as fluid and unknown as the future of COVID-19, we each need to take precautions to help keep ourselves healthy along with those we come into contact with.
So I'm going to summarize the crucial behavior we need to practice to stay as safe as possible.
But first, this from the Australian virologist, Ian Mackay:”REMEMBER: As long as the virus circulates, and as long as you have never been infected, you are susceptible to infection resulting in COVID-19. This will be the case for the rest of your life until you have been infected which should protect you from severe disease.
“COVID-19 is mostly a mild illness but can cause severe pneumonia in approximately 20% of cases, leading to hospitalization for weeks and in a portion of these cases, to death.”
TO REDUCE RISK OF INFECTION:
- Stay at least three feet (one meter) from obviously sick people
- Avoid shaking hands
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Or, wash hands with an alcohol-based hand rub and air dry
- Avoid touching your face
At the grocery store yesterday, I realized that it is a good idea to use the disinfectant wipes some stores supply to clean the shopping cart handle, or bring your own. You might also consider nitrile gloves – you can't know where someone has recently sneezed.
SHOULD YOU WEAR A MASK?
There are mixed messages on the usefulness of face masks. Here is what Mackay says:”While a mask seems like a good idea, and when used by professionals it does protect from infection, it can actually give inexperienced users a false sense of security.
“There isn’t a lot of good evidence (still!) that shows a mask to reliably prevent infection when worn by the public at large. They are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus.”
PRESCRIPTION DRUG SUPPLY DISRUPTIONS
A large percentage of U.S. pharmaceuticals are produced in China as are some critical ingredients needed for drugs produced in the U.S. If COVID-19 continues to accelerate, it's not impossible that shortages may appear. However, on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported:”The FDA [Federal Drug Administration] said that no companies are reporting drug shortages linked to the coronavirus. But in a sign of its efforts to get ahead of any problems, an FDA spokeswoman said the agency has contacted 180 China-based prescription-drug manufacturers asking them to evaluate their supply chains and remind them they’re required to notify FDA of any coming disruptions.”
In anticipation of possible widespread, ongoing transmission of the virus, you might want to contact your physician about an additional supply of critical drugs.
There is more advice which I'll link to for you below, but it is important to know that no one knows what is going to happen. Will COVID-19 become a pandemic? Or will it hit a lower peak and subside? Stock markets worldwide are dropping dramatically day-by-day. For how long? And so on.
We also do not know how other countries' governments are controlling (or not) information as the U.S. government is now doing so it is hard to know what reports about the virus to trust. Read carefully. Use your bullshit detector.
Here are three good links and a Google search will bring up thousands more. Again, choose carefully.