Prepping the general population for COVID-19

How should I prep for the great Coronavirus of 2020, aka COVID-19?

So unless you live in complete seclusion, you are aware of the current fears and realities surrounding Coronavirus that are currently happening across the globe. A simple Sunday Funday trip to Costco this weekend proved to me that people are not following the CDC guidelines. Some people are panicking. We witnessed people in masks pushing and shoving each other to check out and a line that was snaking around the entire store. I mean who goes to Costco on a Sunday anyways?? First mistake made.

So I wanted to think about this virus and how the general population, including my own family, should prepare. Here is what we have done to get ready and what I think that you should do too.

Check your soap supply, and wash those hands!

First is the “soap check”. Make sure that you have soap next to all of your sinks—this will encourage handwashing. Seems like a no brainer, right? Just a simple task to help you feel ready. 

Next, remind your family that simply wetting their hands with a splash of water after using the bathroom or sneezing and coughing into their hands is not going to do much of anything. Handwashing success is based on the amount of time that you wash, the friction that you use and the surface of your hands that you actually wash. 

Here are the 5 steps the CDC recommends every time you wash your hands:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Make sure you get the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Now that you have handwashing checked off your list, let’s move onto the next.

Update your health care to the extent possible

Make sure that you are up to date on your health care. What exactly does this mean? Well for starters, have you had your annual flu shot? Have you had your physical visit this year? How about those daily medications? Do you have refills left? 

Right now, influenza is getting forgotten about. Influenza, or the flu, is still in season and deserves some continued attention. The flu is still hitting hard. If you really want to protect yourself and your family, get your flu shot. Wash your hands. Stay clear of sick people. And hey, wash those hands! 

Do you have asthma or a history of wheezing with illness? Now would be the time to make sure you have refills on your albuterol and flovent inhalers and make sure you are familiar with your asthma action plan. Call for refills of your asthma medications so that you have them on hand in case you do catch any sort of respiratory illness (flu anyone?). The last thing that you will want to be doing is going into a germy pharmacy or waiting for a call back from your primary care provider if you suddenly realize you need a new inhaler. Check how many puffs of albuterol are left. Don’t wait until 2am for your refill. Be prepared. 

This goes for anyone with any health conditions. Make sure that your health is tip top. Follow your plan that you were given for your health issue and make sure that you are up to date on medication refills, appointments and hey, while you’re at it, set up auto-delivery of your medications. This will make things easier for you as things get busier around here. 

If you’re already sick…

If you or a member of your household is sick, your best bets in order to prevent the spread of germs are to:

  1. Clean all surfaces, especially door knobs, light switches, and anything else you regularly touch
  2. Wash your hands. Seriously, you can’t wash your hands enough during this time.
  3. Sneeze into your arm or a tissue!
  4. Stay home! Don’t go out and spread germs to others when you are sick with any illness. 

What not to do 

It is not a good idea to scour the internet and pay hundreds of dollars for some strange masks resembling the n-95 mask from Amazon. You really only need a mask if you are a health care provider or if you have COVID-19 and are going out on the town (which you shouldn’t). If you have a respiratory illness and need to be seen in the office or ER, they will give you the appropriate mask. If you happen to catch Coronavirus, then worry about the mask if and when you need it. It will not do you any good now in terms of prevention as they need to be fitted properly and can’t be lifted up for every itch or to talk on your cell phone. The hospital will provide you with the appropriate gear if and when it is time. Masks right now should be saved for providers and personnel taking care of sick patients. Besides, how will you activate your facial recognition on your cell? Better get that passcode ready! 

Also, do NOT go running into the ER with the sniffles or for any old fever for that matter. The Emergency Room was named that way for a reason. It is for emergencies. If you or your loved one look like a wet noodle, won’t perk up, are not drinking at all, have had no urine in over 8 hours, have persistent or worsening pain, are very ill appearing or you are concerned and feel like you should be seen, then head to the ER. Just remember the ER is not a walk-in clinic. Call your primary care provider or pediatrician for your general sick care needs. 

Leverage telehealth tools

The CDC recommends “Leveraging existing telehealth tools to direct people to the right level of healthcare for their medical needs.” Hey, that’s US! Talk to a nurse first, and get the right care. We are also on standby if you can’t get in touch with your provider, or their wait times are too long. We are here to help! Chat with us so we can help you decide the best plan for you and your loved ones. 

The CDC is keeping close tabs on current illnesses and how to keep yourself and loved ones safe. We agree with the CDC and their personal health habit recommendations for your home and hope this gentle reminder will help you too. Keep calm and wash your hands…

Kim Liner, PNP

Nurse-1-1 Chief NP