Preparing for Coronavirus: What I Want My Community to Know

I began college with the plan to study pathogens and eventually become a Virologist; The Hot Zone (a book about Ebola) was one of my all-time favorites in high school and college.

I’ve been reading up on Coronavirus, and thinking about my family, community, and my State, and I want to share some things I’ve learned, resources, and things you can do.

It’s concerning to me that some folks, including our President, are saying the Flu is a bigger issue than Coronavirus because more people have died of the flu.

That’s because the Flu is already wide-spread here, Coronavirus has only begun.

Let’s look at where this could go. And then what we need to do.

Flu fatality rate = .1%
Coronavirus fatality rate = 2-4% (early estimation)

This means that when 10,000 people get the flu, 10 people die.
BUT, when 10,000 people get Coronavirus, 200-400 may die.

What is MOST concerning to me about this whole discussion is that our flu statistics actually indicate we aren’t very good at preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses in the United States.
We see 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually from the flu.

Imagine, then, if we have this many people every year getting, being hospitalized by, and dying of the flu, these numbers will be worse *when* it’s Coronavirus.

We need to be serious about this.
We can start right now by implementing better practices which decrease the spread of illnesses like Coronavirus and the Flu.

What to Do:

HUMIDIFY – I’m starting with this one because I think it is the least-well known and has significant potential to decrease the spread of respiratory and airborne illness here in Colorado. Humidify your home, worksite, classroom, business – this will help decrease the transmission of airborne pathogens. Research

WASH YOUR HANDS – Make it a religious practice. When you arrive home, get to the office, use the restroom, wipe your nose with your hand… etc

CARRY SANITZER – Hand sanitizer does not replace washing your hands, but helps when you touch the Subway rail, or run into Target. Use it between hand-washing opportunities.

COUGH/SNEEZE INTO YOUR ELBOW – Or a tissue, just not your hand. Teach children to do the same.

STAY HOME WHEN SICK – Seriously. Stay home.

I also want to get everyone thinking about, preparing for, and using a very effective public health measure to stop the exponential spread of a pathogen – Quarantine.
Quarantines really work. We should use them; we should heed them.

Stay home if you are sick. Stay home if others are sick. Order groceries for pick-up, or ask a friend to drop groceries at your door, work from home/allow employees to work from home, and generally limit public contact.

Quarantine can also come from the Government and in these cases, it is incumbent upon our public health professionals, government representatives, and local officials to share frequent and transparent information about the purpose and procedures being used to keep the public safe.

Keeping people isolated and separated, often in our own homes, is a very effective way to stop the public spread of an illness. We need to consider that we may be instructed to stay in our homes for a period of days, and that businesses, schools, and public events could be cancelled for a period of time. You can prepare for this similar to how we prepare for weathering out a big storm.

I like this article by NPR for personal preparation.

Preparedness is waaay cooler than panic, and the steps to prepare are simple, start taking them a few at a time.

Wishing you all the best of health,

p.s. I’m running for Colorado State Senate and there aren’t enough Legislators with a background in public health and emergency preparedness. If that concerns you too, please donate $5-$25 to help me reach more voters and elect a Senator that values prevention and your health.  

More Coronavirus Resources:

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