As I write this, the world is facing our most recent pandemic, the coronavirus. It seems we have a new one every few years, and they’re always a bit scary, some more than others. This new strain of coronavirus kills about two percent of the people who get it, and when I heard that, I thought that’s not so bad. Then I learned that the yearly flu epidemics kill only about 0.1 percent of people who get it. So, yeah, it’s worse than the flu.
But I haven’t been to China. Ever. So I ought to be safe, right? I mean, I don’t think I even know anybody who’s ever been to China. Then we start hearing about it spreading everywhere, which, with modern transportation and this virus’ long incubation period, makes perfect sense. And then we hear about it popping up in people with no risk factors – they haven’t traveled, they’ve had no contact with anyone who has traveled, they should be perfectly safe. Only, they’re not. Gotta admit, that’s a bit scary.
Have you ever noticed how, during things like this, they always say that the very young and the “older” people are most at risk? Well, now that I’m one of those “older” people, I notice them saying that. Well, let me tell you, I have no intention of being just one more little old lady who got taken out by a germ because of her age. So I started reading about this thing, what the symptoms are, how it spreads, and how to prevent it.
Coronavirus has been around a long time, but this is a new strain of it. Some bugs are sneaky that way; they just make a new model. Lysol will kill the model we’ve known about for years; it says so right on their label. So the clever scoundrel morphed into a new strain, one we haven’t seen before.
It’s in the same family as the common cold and the flu; a cousin, I guess. But as all of us who live in a family know, there can be a lot of difference between relatives. It’s kind of like chicken pox, cold sores, and HIV all being in the same family. Or like a preacher and a serial killer being brothers. One harmless; the other, not so much.
At first it seems like you’re getting a cold or the flu; one article I read said if you have the muscle soreness, you don’t have the coronavirus; you have the flu. First time I’ve ever cheered for the flu, you know what I mean?
So, I’d rather prevent it than treat it. So how does one keep from getting the coronavirus? I searched and searched, looking for lots of information on what I needed to buy or do to keep from getting zapped by this bug. I probably read a dozen or more articles about it. I was prepared to buy what I needed and jump through all kinds of hoops to protect myself.
Some of them recommended wearing a mask in public. But then I read about the shortage of masks and how the present supply would be needed by the healthcare workers. So much for that idea.
But here’s the biggie: Every article I read had the same bottom line: the most effective way to keep from getting the coronavirus:
WASH YOUR HANDS.
Yep, that’s it, folks. Wash those nasty paws. With both soap and water. For twenty seconds. Scrub well. Dry well. Don’t touch a public faucet with your clean fingers to turn off the water; use the paper towel for that. Don’t touch your eyes or mouth or nose with your shiny clean fingers.
Now wait just a minute. I was prepared to do some Big Involved Thing to keep from getting sick. And all I really need to do is keep my hands clean?? That’s my best shot at staying well??
It can’t be that simple. Can it?
Yes. Yes, it can. It really can be that simple.
We humans are funny creatures, aren’t we? We want something new, big, complicated process when what we really need is simple. Many things in life, when taken to their bottom line, are quite disappointingly simple.
Can’t get your toddler up in the morning? Put the urchin to bed earlier. (Disclaimer: I realize this is simple, but not necessarily easy. Simple and easy are not the same thing).
Hate watching your houseplants shrivel up and die? Water them.
Too heavy? Eat less and move more.
Huh. Hooda thunk that would actually work?
I’m still mildly concerned about the coronavirus, not only for myself, but for all those people just trying to have a nice life who will become ill and some of whom will die.
I’m concerned that there isn’t yet a treatment that cures it. Or a vaccine to prevent it.
I’m concerned that there aren’t enough masks to go around.
I’m concerned that there will be economic ramifications. Already, Coca-Cola has announced that some ingredients they get from China will not be available. As schools, cities, and whole countries (Japan) come to a stop, people’s lives will be affected. If you can’t work, you can’t pay your bills or buy food for your family.
I’m concerned that here in the US, the CDC has been virtually gagged and the information that we will be allowed to hear will be screened by someone who is a science denier and who has a track record of not handling health emergencies effectively in his home state.
I’m concerned that for some people the Most Important Thing is whether the Stock Market is affected adversely.
All those things concern me, but I can’t do anything about any of them except pray.
Oh, and there’s one other thing I can do: I can wash my hands. Often and well. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
I hope you will, too.