COVID-19, like most crises, causes not only infection, but also the ripple effects of panic and fear that impact us all. That fear factor is, in part, fueled by an insatiable 24-hour news cycle that can unsettle even the calmest among us. Furthermore, the recommendations to prevent illness can have the unintended consequence of also contributing to social isolation, exacerbating the fear and anxiety. Like the virus itself, that resulting fear needs to be managed.
Tips for navigating the crisis
Here are some things to keep in mind as we navigate the current COVID-19 crisis:
1. Take precaution
People with underlining illnesses or who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease are at the greatest risk, but no one is free from contracting COVID-19. Be smart and listen to the advice of public health officials. Currently, they are advising to: avoid large crowds, stock up on essential supplies, wash hands often (for a minimum of 20 seconds), stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing (six feet is recommended) when outside the home.
2. Connect with those who may be isolated; use technology
Applications like Skype, FaceTime, texting and even phone calls can keep those at-risk connected to family and friends and can replace in-person participation with real-time interaction at family gatherings or social functions until it is safe to resume in-person activity. Connecting with those who are more isolated can keep those at-risk connected to care providers as well. Amazon and other delivery providers can ensure replenishment of needed supplies, and even food and medication. It’s important to remember that social distancing may be recommended but social isolation is not. Use technology to stay connected.
3. Be knowledgeable
Obtain your information from credible sources such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) or Northwell Health. See the resource list provided. Know the emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If you notice any of the following symptoms – difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent chest pain or pressure or new confusion – make sure you seek immediate medical attention.
4. Communicate and advocate
Encourage those who are fearful or concerned about the situation and their own health to share their concerns with you and/or their healthcare professionals. Listening, understanding and reassurance go a long way to allay fears and worry. Encourage people to avoid spreading illness by staying home when they are sick and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. Make smart efforts to “flatten the curve.”
5. Stay up-to-date
Pay attention to the latest up-to-date news regarding the situation and what is happening in the community so you can respond accordingly, but don’t overdo it. Check in once or twice a day. Being constantly tuned to the news can do more harm than good. Make sure that it’s more Netflix and a comedy or two than the 24-hour news station.
It’s important to remember that the recommendations public health professionals are promoting regarding COVID-19 are not only about preventing individual illness, but also about protecting the healthcare system to be there for all. We know that while the current situation may be unsettling, we can rely on each other, the lessons we’ve learned and our public health and healthcare professionals and institutions to both persevere and thrive in even the most trying circumstances.
This crisis too shall pass, but there still is much to do.
4. NYSDOH Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Hotline: 1-888-364-3065