Experts stress that preparation ― not panic ― is key when it comes to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Easier said than done, right?
It can be hard to keep calm with the barrage of news stories about COVID-19 and worries about vulnerable populations, sick leave and the health care system. Not to mention, cold and flu season means we’re experiencing more anxiety-inducing sniffles, and we’re already seeing changes to some ways we live, work and travel.
With so much uncertainty, it’s completely normal to feel concerned or even scared right now.
But experts are correct that managing your anxiety can be beneficial. One of the best ways to do that is to get some (measured) perspective about the situation.
Below, we’ve rounded up some facts about COVID-19 to give your worried mind a fuller picture of what’s going on. This isn’t to dismiss the very real problems we’re experiencing in this outbreak, but rather serves as a reminder of what else is happening with COVID-19.
Check them out below (and read this expert guide on how to manage coronavirus anxiety if you’re struggling):
People do recover from COVID-19
Harvard Health reports that “most people who get sick will recover from COVID-19.”
As of publication, more than 66,000 people globally have recovered from the disease, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
Many people who contract the disease will experience ‘mild’ symptoms
Symptoms could include “fever over 100.5, cough, malaise, and occasionally nausea, diarrhea. In more severe cases, shortness of breath, chest pain and pneumonia will be apparent,” Dr. Linda Anegawa, an internist with virtual health platform PlushCare, previously told HuffPost.
Doctors recommend treating the symptoms with medicines like Tylenol for fever, drinking lots of water and getting lots of rest.
You likely can’t get it from your food
“We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging,” a spokesperson from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service previously told HuffPost and mentioned in a statement.
The main ways the disease spreads are through people who are in close contact with the disease, respiratory droplets, and touching infected surfaces and then touching your face.
You also can’t get it from your pets
Evidence shows that dogs and cats may test positive for coronavirus, but it’s unlikely they’re able to pass it on to their humans. Go on and get those belly rubs or scratches in. (It’ll help your stress, too.)
It may go away once it gets warmer
We still don’t know a lot about this virus yet since it’s new ― including a definitive conclusion on when the outbreak might end, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No one can say for certain that the spread of the coronavirus will slow down or be less severe once spring or summer arrives. However, some experts have said there’s a good chance it can, based on similar diseases from the past.
Scientists are working on a vaccine
This may not be done or available for the public anytime soon, but it is projected to be ready in the next 12 to 18 months. While this isn’t great news for an immediate fix, there is at least hope that researchers will develop more medicine to fight this off in the future.
One of the absolute best ways to help prevent it is simple
Wash. Your. Hands. End of story.
Doctors recommend rubbing your hands together with warm water and soap for 20 seconds or longer. (Need a song while you scrub? This brilliant app has you covered.) Use common sense when deciding how often to wash. After using the bathroom, before you prepare food, after you’ve been in public places and after you’ve touched potentially dirty surfaces are usually good bets.
Additionally, avoid putting your hands on your face when they’re unwashed (here’s how to do it) since the virus can easily spread by touching areas like your eyes and nose. Disinfectant wipes are also a great resource for keeping things clean (this guide explains the proper way to use them and the best ones to buy).
Let’s hope that this, at the very least, has encouraged people to practice better hygiene habits ― ones that should last longer than this disease outbreak.
Finally, know that you have the power to help what’s happening right now
If it helps to channel your panic into something productive, try thinking of the situation this way: Taking care of yourself right now is an actionable priority. A lot of people will not be severely affected by this disease, but there are plenty of people who will. This includes older adults and people with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
Practicing good hygiene (as mentioned above), social distancing when you can, getting your flu shot if you haven’t already, and staying home if you’re sick are all ways you personally can make a difference.
We have a responsibility to each other as humans on this planet. One of the best ways to exercise that is by looking after your own health and habits. If you haven’t been doing that yet, now’s a great time to start.