Like me, I’m sure you’re concerned about the pandemic related to COVID-19. As the virus has spread across the globe, it has also arrived on our shores, with more and more Americans affected daily.
As we know very little about how this novel virus behaves, it becomes difficult to predict how long it will be around, how many people it will infect, and how lethal it truly is. But there is no question it will be around longer than we would like and will infect many more people. We can only hope it will be less devastating than first predicted.
Given the potential seriousness of this virus, I urge you to:
- Be over-the-top when it comes to cleaning your hands: Wash them frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds per time. That’s longer than you think - it’s the amount of time needed to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your face and rubbing your eyes unless you’ve just cleaned your hands.
- Clean all frequently touched surfaces by wiping them with disinfecting wipes or a bleach solution (this includes counters, door knobs, etc.) at least once per day. A bleach solution can be made by mixing ¼ cup bleach with 2 ¼ cups water.
- Avoid large gatherings and think about workable ways to minimize exposure in moderate sized groups (for example, shop in off-hours or online, and work from home if your job permits it).
- Avoid elective long-distance travel.
- If you feel unwell, STAY HOME. The symptoms to watch for are cough, fever and sore throat. This is the extent of symptoms most of us will experience. Rarely, these will progress to breathing difficulties. Unless you are experiencing breathing issues, the best thing you can do is stay away from others and from medical facilities and “self-quarantine” for 14 days to help avoid spreading the virus. Remember, there are currently no specific medications to treat the COVID-19 infection. So seeking medical attention for mild symptoms will not result in a treatment or cure for you, but it could divert precious resources from more severely ill individuals.
- If you are experiencing a cough or runny nose, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. Then, throw the tissue in the trash -- or cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- If you have underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, cancer, etc., please be extra vigilant. If at all possible, minimize exposure to others and double-up on cleaning and disinfecting routines.
- Be prepared by stocking reasonable amounts of shelf-stable foods and common necessities (think first aid kit, Kleenex, etc.) so you can self-quarantine if needed.
- Don’t panic. I know that sounds a little odd after all you’ve read up to this point, but for most of us, this will be a mild disease. Our biggest job is to help stop the spread of COVID-19 so that we minimize the impact to all those we know and love.
What to do if you have possibly been in contact with an infected individual? In addition to the above:
- If you were within 6 feet of a confirmed case for at least 10 minutes, you should self-quarantine for 14 days regardless of whether or not you are experiencing any symptoms.
- If you have not been in contact with a confirmed case, but have been in an area where multiple infections have been documented (just coming back from a cruise, returning from Europe, etc.), and ARE experiencing symptoms, you should self-quarantine for 14 days. You should also notify your local health department regarding your circumstances. If you DO NOT have symptoms, health departments don’t currently recommend self-quarantine. However, avoiding physical contact, keeping a 6-foot distance from others and, if available, wearing a face mask (all for 14 days after potential exposure) would make sense to help from inadvertently spreading the virus.
Finally, for more information and updates on the coronavirus pandemic, here is the link to the most trustworthy website: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please check it regularly.
These are all pieces of advice I have provided to my friends, family and everyone at Step One Foods. I hope you find them useful. For my part, I have stocked up on basic supplies and have asked my college-aged children to come home.
Step One Foods is continuing to ship our products to ensure people have what they need throughout the outbreak and beyond. As always, we are taking the utmost care to ensure our products and our employees are safe and healthy.