Creating social change

Coronavirus – things you can DO

We all feel helpless — and perhaps a bit panicked — in the face of changing info, conflicting info, and suppression of info.

But the reality is here: Coronavirus is in L.A. (at LAX , UCLA) and likely has already spread far wider than news reports and government statistics say. (why do I say this?)

“’keeping it out’ – containment – is no longer relevant. … understand what’s about to change: the end of most quarantines, travel restrictions, contact tracing, and other measures designed to keep ‘them’ from infecting ‘us,’ and the switch to measures like canceling mass events designed to keep us from infecting each other.”  (quoted from this article by Australian virus experts)

Here are some sane things we can do to take care of each other:

  • respect others’ need to remain healthy. Even if you figure “oh well, I’ll get it and it won’t be a big deal”, recognize that others in your circle may have very pressing reasons to be protective (like a 94 year-old mother-in-law, or a kid with a lung condition for whom it could be a very big deal).
  • Handwashing – form the new habit of washing often, and doing it thoroughly with soap (Johns Hopkins how-to video), while singing one of these fun 20 second songs. If you are of-a-certain-age, you might prefer Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive”
  • Avoid touching hard surfaces in public places. “use a barrier such as a paper towel or tissue to touch door handles, elevator buttons and other commonly touched surfaces” (per San Mateo County’s public health ). To that list, we could add: shopping cart handles, handrails … At home, clean doorknobs, fridge handles, bathroom fixtures, etc. frequently. “Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe” (per Blue Cross)
  • replace handshakes, hugs, and European cheek kisses with the “elbow bump“, “air hugs” and bowing.
  • Quit touching your face with unwashed hands. Studies say we touch our face on average two dozen times per hour. We all need to break that habit because eyes, nose, and mouth are entrance points for any virus.
    • Personally, I find one way to resist touching my face is to clasp my hands together – it reminds me that my hands need to be washed.
  • use contemporary cough etiquette. Even if you’re pretty sure your cough is due to allergies rather than COVID-19, cover your cough with the inside of your elbow, or cover your cough with a single-use tissue and then wash your hands.
  • Consider single-use tissues for the duration of this pandemic. If you continue to use a cloth handkerchief: change them often, keep them where no one else can touch them, and wash-wash-wash your hands every single time you touch them.
  • boost your immune system, with whatever method(s) you know. Eat healthy, non-sugary foods, get plenty of sleep, get some exercise and sunshine and fresh air — all those things the stereotypical Mom might say to do. Other things you can try from home include acupressure, yoga (video), energy medicine, mushroom extracts, probiotics. … And scientists continue to study how gardening might help boost your immune system.
    • continue doing immune-boosting activities well into summer 2020, perhaps beyond.
  • stock your pantry, in case you or your loved ones need an extended home-stay. What short-term items to stock up on? Here are some sensible recommendations. Or enjoy what a few top chefs recommend.
  • In the kitchen: if you use cloth towels and napkins, accelerate how often you change and wash them. (or consider single-use during this pandemic). At the very least, use a freshly laundered towel before preparing food for family and friends.
  • sewing project: couldn’t find facemasks? here’s a summary of studies of DIY masks — you can make a fairly effective one from a cotton pillowcase or tshirt. And here are free pattern & instructions, although instead of the cute quilter fabrics I would go with the materials recommended in the previous link.
  • Rather than stockpiling toilet paper, get outside and start planting a garden for long-term preparation for the repercussions to the economy and other disruptions that lie ahead. How? Here’s a sane article giving a Permaculture perspective on preparation (which really means: how to prepare for the long-haul that societal recovery will be. my post on that here.)
  • Cancel or postpone nonessential gatherings (per San Mateo County’s public health ).
  • Laughter is healthy. Here’s a funny post about working from home (a bit NSFW)
  • If you’re not sick, get outdoors. Get fresh air and exercise and stress relief with a walk in a nature space, beach, hillside, garden near you.
  • Communities may need volunteers, says the LA Times. “Think now about the skills you have and how you can help. Heed the call should volunteers be requested.”
    • where you may think things are “bad”, there’s always someone in this city who has things worse. Don’t forget that food banks and other peoplecare centers still need your support even though affluent people are self-isolating.
  • stay home when you’re sick. CDC says to self-isolate, and stay there for 24 hours beyond when your symptoms cease (i.e. beyond when your fever remains below 100.4° F, or beyond when cough ceases without cough medicine). Watch old movies or listen to an audiobook through Hoopla, a free service of L.A. Public Library that’s completely online.
  • check in with friends and family. If physical presence becomes unwise, check-in with them often by phone or video-chat. The sound of a living breathing human is so important! Send each other pictures of flowers, or crazy cat and baby goat videos — or pictures of gorgeous vegetable gardens. Keep each others’ spirits up.

I will continue to update this list as I learn more.

Taking care of each other, and taking care of our community, is a huge part of building a better future. We have the power to start doing more of that, today.