Millions of people ask for clear and comprehensive information and guidelines on the new coronavirus. Unfortunately, American citizens have received neither objective information nor guidance for the future from the federal government. Instead, the Executive has minimized cases and local transmission rates due to the lack of test equipment.
But during a crisis, leadership can come from unexpected places.
When he suspended all NBA games, Commissioner Adam Silver sent a powerful message to people saying that the outbreak needed to be taken seriously. With that single announcement, Silver pursued a more effective public health policy than that applied by the White House during this pandemic. Soon after, all the other major sports followed suit; the decisive action of the NBA contributed to that all the dominoes fell.
Without behavioral changes, many patients will require hospitalization that will exceed the capacity of the American healthcare system. And this will lead to preventable deaths
Last January, the running back [corredor] NFL Marshawn Lynch gave helpful advice to his younger teammates in a postgame interview: Take care of your bodies, your brains, and your pasta (i.e., your money). This is true for everyone during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As an assistant professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University, I study infectious disease risks and preventive solutions. I know that the only way to stop the outbreak and prevent serious cases is to reduce transmission. If we don’t change all of our behaviors, the health of those most likely to experience serious problems will suffer.
Although older people and those with respiratory illnesses are most at risk, serious cases have also occurred in healthy young people. Without behavioral changes, many patients will require hospitalization that will exceed the capacity of the American healthcare system. And this will lead to preventable deaths.
Decreasing overall transmission will protect the most vulnerable members of our communities and keep the health system running. Decisions are no longer made thinking only of oneself, but we must constantly take into account how our personal behavior will influence all the people around us and those around us.
Space is needed, but connection is also needed
At the moment there are no pharmaceutical remedies, such as vaccines and antiviral drugs. Today, we have to rely on basic public health measures: washing your hands frequently, not touching your face, using hand sanitizer, and limiting exposure to others. It may sound simple, but those things are enormously useful. Non-pharmaceutical measures are extremely effective against infectious diseases; all Ebola epidemics prior to 2014 are an example.
At this time, this means avoiding direct physical contact with others. You have to avoid crowds, currently groups of more than 10 people; non-essential travel must be reduced or eliminated; and the space between us and others must be increased so that there is a social distance. There must be a space of approximately 1.80 meters. But if they don’t feel sick, they don’t have to become sedentary, or stay locked up. Dance at home or find fitness programs or instructors on YouTube. If they think they are getting sick (or if they already are), they should stay away from others. Self-quarantining is a good idea as long as you think you have an infectious disease.
Non-pharmaceutical measures are extremely effective against infectious diseases; all Ebola epidemics prior to 2014 are an example
Social distance is actually a physical distance; it does not mean social isolation. During the outbreak, his mental health is essential, and he is vulnerable right now. Social support helps and is also related to physical health. Everything is related.
Deliberate efforts must be made to stay in touch with family, friends, or colleagues / classmates who are now working remotely. Any kind of direct communication will support: emails, text messages, video chats, and even voice calls, if that’s your thing. Someone they know is likely to end up in quarantine or isolation for 14 days, and it will be psychologically tough. Help them, but don’t take full responsibility.
Create a list for a different friend or family member to check that person is okay. They should also know that social media can have negative consequences for mental health. Don’t assume that Instagram puppies will make your quarantined friends feel fully supported.
Failing to make trips or not going to events that excited you will cause disappointment. It’s okay to feel sad about losses that seem trivial right now. The endless stream of news, with rapidly changing information and disinformation, can be overwhelming. Lack of a large-scale government management plan could be frustrating. Take a moment to acknowledge that feeling of insecurity. Now more than ever, don’t face anxiety alone.
We are together in this
And finally, the most important thing of all this: do not spend your salary accumulating food and supplies for several months, do not panic and do not buy any possible medicine without a prescription; buy what you need and leave the rest for others.
It’s a good idea to check your prescription drugs and make sure you have a month’s supply on hand. Look at the non-refrigerated foods they have, because they may have enough preserves and products to survive several days. The goal is to have non-perishable food for two to four weeks so that you don’t have to go shopping often, and make your decisions based on what you can safely spend and store.
Any kind of direct communication will support: emails, text messages, video chats, and even voice calls, if that’s your thing
Since this outbreak began, the federal government has wavered in its response and preparedness. Instead, local government authorities have set precedents to eliminate the costs of tests and treatments. NY, Washington and California took the initiative by announcing from the beginning that the tests would be free.
On March 12, Congresswoman Katie Porter demanded that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finally grant the long-awaited “guarantee” that the coronavirus test would be free to all Americans. We do not know how this will be applied at the operational level given the shortage of test equipment, but the importance of free testing cannot be underestimated. People will not be tested if they are concerned about cost. And that’s a huge problem: Mild or unreported cases can lead to a transmission that is almost impossible to stop.
This outbreak will continue to change our lives. Things are not going to be the way they were in two weeks. Let’s look ahead to find a new normal
Entrepreneurs also have to encourage and reward responsible self-quarantine. Paid sick leave would significantly improve compliance with self-quarantine measures. A system in which sick leave becomes a loss of salary encourages transmission of the virus.
This outbreak will continue to change our lives. Things are not going to be the way they were. Let’s look ahead to find a new normal. To protect the most vulnerable members of our communities, the least vulnerable must make responsible and not selfish decisions. The measures necessary to fight this outbreak are unprecedented and sometimes unpopular, but necessary. Marshawn Lynch has wisely taught us to protect our bodies, our brains, and our pasta. Now it is our responsibility to go further to protect each other.
Nita Bharti She is an assistant professor of biology at the Center for Dynamics of Infectious Diseases, Pennsylvania State University.
This article was originally published in The Conversation in English.
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