We are dealing with a serious issue that is about to get worse before it gets better. I don’t believe we’ve dealt with a virus of this magnitude since maybe the polio epidemic of the 1940’s and 1950’s.
So, if you want to hear my take on COVID-19, here it is…
Right now, there seems to be three camps of people:
1) Those who are heeding the warnings of other countries who were hit hard first such as Italy and China and listening to the government’s advice to socially distance themselves.
2) There are those who are in panic mode buying up all of the toilet paper and produce, thereby forcing everyone else to do the same thing.
3) And there are those who are not too worried about it, still socializing with friends, believing that even if they do get the coronavirus, they will most likely be fine.
This last point may be true. It does appear that many only have mild symptoms, and there are probably hundreds or even thousands of unreported cases walking around with no symptoms at all.
But there have also been healthy individuals with no underlying health issues who have tested positive and have spoken out about how horrible dealing with this virus has been for them.
A 38-year-old woman who went to a high school near mine, who had no prior health issues, wrote a detailed post a few days ago about the toll this virus has taken on her. In her words, “I’ve been through labor and 3 C sections and I would choose that over the pain I’ve felt this week”. You can read her full firsthand account HERE
31-year-old Olympic gold medalist swimmer Cameron van der Burgh says, “It’s no joke. By far the worst virus I have ever endured despite being a healthy individual with strong lungs (no smoking/sport), living a healthy lifestyle and being young (least at risk demographic)”. Read his comments HERE
A 42-year-old healthy father and attorney who lives 20 minutes from me experienced no symptoms for 2 weeks after coming into contact with someone with the virus, before it got so bad he thought he was going to die and was forced to go to the hospital. He describes it as feeling like you are “drowning above water” and that people are wrong in “thinking that only older people or immuno-compromised people are susceptible – I’m neither of those things”, he says. Read his story HERE
I am not a doctor, I don’t have all of the statistics, and there is a lot of information that no one yet knows about COVID-19.
However, I do feel obligated to remind my readers to take this seriously. Governments don’t shut down economies over the flu. Our healthcare system is not equipped to deal with an outbreak. We don’t have the equipment, we don’t have the manpower, and a vaccine could be anywhere from 1-2 years away probably at best. That is expedited from the 10 years it normally takes.
If you have an underlying health condition, I bet you are already being extra cautious. If you are a healthy individual, you may not personally be at a high risk of complications, but this is as much about the people you may spread it to unknowingly as it is about your own health. COVID-19 symptoms can take up to two weeks before showing up, and in some cases, they never show up at all.
Right now is the time to listen to the scientists as they continue to learn more about COVID-19 and to heed the advice of the federal government. Stay home. The rapid nature of reproduction that this virus carries has already overwhelmed the hospitals in Italy and China. This affects everyone in the hospital who needs medical attention, not just those with the virus. Simply put, it is selfish to be around other people unless it is absolutely necessary. We need to be thinking about each other, not ourselves.
If you want some facts, here are links to a recent study, reviewing Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 (AKA COVID-19).
By now, I think many of us have the following drilled into our heads.
- Stay home.
- Don’t come within 6 feet of other people.
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Cover your cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
- Disinfect commonly touched things such as keys, doorknobs, countertops, cell phone, steering wheel, envelopes, and packages.
Here are the key findings from the above study that give you the “why” behind these instructions.
1) COVID-19 lasts roughly 3 days on most external surfaces, particularly plastic and stainless steel. It can also stay on cardboard so be mindful of the packages you receive and how you handle and dispose of them.
2) COVID-19 remains viable in aerosols for at least 3 hours. An aerosolized particle from a sneeze, cough, or even simply breathing can float for hours in the air making it very easy to transmit. This is especially worrisome since an unknown percentage of people are asymptomatic. All the more reason to stay isolated.
These findings tell us that it’s not just about who you are around at that moment, but who’s been in that space or touched that thing over the last 3 days and how well that space or thing has been cleaned.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about COVID-19. One thing we know for sure is that this strain is brand new, which means NO ONE is immune. None of our bodies have had a chance yet to build up any resistance to this the way we have with the flu and other viruses, and there is no existing vaccine. So, if you do get it, it is going to run its course, and your symptoms could be mild, or they could be severe.
In my opinion, the risk of not taking precautions is far greater than the reward of being able to later say, “I told you so”.
As Kaila Colbin, co-founder of Boma Global puts it:
I sincerely hope you are taking this seriously. No need to panic. But no need to write this off as one big overreaction either. Help slow the spread. Educate your friends and family and urge them to do the same. You can’t control what happens, and you can’t control what others do, but you can control what you do, and you do have some influence over what those close to you decide to do.
As scientists and governments around the world race to find a way to slow this thing down and reduce the spread, we all need to work together and do our part to help out. It may not be you that’s at high-risk, but someone you know has a loved one who can’t afford to get sick.
Be good to each other. Enjoy this extra time with whoever you may be quarantined with. Catch up on that project you haven’t had time for or that book you’ve been meaning to read.
And remember, this too shall pass.
Brian Donovan is a certified fitness and nutrition coach, and the founder of Online Fitness Coach – an online fitness program where clients get direct coaching and personalized training and nutrition plans. Coach Brian was voted Chicago’s “Best Personal Trainer” by Chicago Reader magazine, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. He has been featured in publications and websites such as Muscle & Fitness, Chicago Reader, Voyage Chicago, Bach Performance, and The Personal Trainer Development Center (PTDC).
P.S. Don’t forget to download your free Health & Immunity Guide. Included inside are my top immunity-boosting tips, how to protect yourself from viruses, and a list of resources from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) about the coronavirus, protecting your health, cleaning and disinfecting recommendations, and coronavirus cleaning products.