What should you do in a pandemic? Do what you can

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A favorite aunt had a simple motto: “Do what you can. Leave the rest to God.” This woman saw her share of hardships and sorrow. She lived through the Depression, World War II and quite a few epidemics. If she were alive today, I am sure that is what she would advise in the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no 100% effective way to protect yourself and others from the virus. There is no cure. So … do what you can to protect yourselves and others and to help your community.

• You can wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. You should have been doing this before the pandemic. It is a simple health and safety precaution every child should be taught. Hand washing with soap and water helps stop the spread of germs. Wash your hands every time you return home from somewhere else (and be sure to wipe down the door knobs and other surfaces you touched). Wash your hands before preparing food, after using the restroom and before meals.

• You can train yourself to keep your hands away from your face. Wash your hands before you touch your face so that you don’t transfer germs from whatever you last touched to your eyes, nose and mouth. Like hand washing, this health and safety measure should become a lifelong habit.

• You can stay home if you are sick and keep your children at home if they are sick. This is something you should have been doing before the pandemic and should continue when the current crisis is over.

• During the pandemic, you can maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and others who are not members of your immediate household. Be aware of others and give them space. This may require some patience, but remember that person you are giving space could be contagious and not know it. By maintaining “social distance,” you are protecting yourself as well as others.

• You can wear a cloth face covering in places, such as grocery stores, where it is not possible to maintain 6 feet of distance from others at all times. Research from Duke University found homemade face masks with at least two layers of cotton that fit well and cover the nose and mouth do a good job of catching the droplets of moisture that leave your mouth and nose when you talk, cough, sneeze or breathe. The virus is most easily transported in those droplets. You can wear a mask to protect others from you should you be contagious and asymptomatic.

• If you are healthy, you can give blood. The need for blood continues year-round. It doesn’t take a pause during a pandemic. Now, more than ever, blood donors are needed. Every blood donation is tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Those antibodies can help those who are most ill from COVID-19. Blood donors get a free antibody test as well as information about their cholesterol and iron levels.

• You can choose to be kind. You can offer to pick up groceries for those who are in high risk categories. You can support local charities in helping those most in need.

• You can do your homework and do some research before you share anything you see on social media so you do not add to the misinformation being circulated online. And be sure to confirm the information you are relying on is current. The science on COVID-19 is evolving because it is a new virus. Some theories shared by scientists back in February and March were found to be incorrect. For example, when the pandemic started, they did not encourage the general public to wear masks, but later research found up to half of those who are contagious have no symptoms and that the virus is spread in the droplets of moisture that leave the mouth and nose when a person talks, coughs, sneezes or simply exhales, so they started encouraging everyone to wear masks in public places. Before you hit that “share” button, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it fair? Is it helpful? Is it kind?

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