Who's panicking yet? No, not panicking? Don't worry there's enough people freaking out to make up for your chill, as evidenced by the lack of toilet paper in all grocery stores.
Let's go over a little bit of actual information about COVID-19, shall we? This virus is categorically in the same family of viruses as influenza and the common cold, which is likely why so far only about 16% of cases result in serious illness. By the math this means that 80+% of people will not become severely ill, in fact a large number of these people may not even realize they have this specific virus. As hospitals around the country prepare for a significant influx of patients seeking medical attention, it is important to remember the necessity of social distancing. Keep your space! Unless travel is absolutely necessary, stay home. Practice your faith at home. Conduct your business via telecommuting. Order your groceries online. The unfortunate truth is that there will be those that get sick from this virus and some will have more serious outcomes than others, but the best way to prevent this wildfire from spreading out of control is to take care of ourselves. Like on an airplane, sometimes you have to put your own mask on first before you can worry about others. The first step in slowing this spread is by taking care of ourselves.
As I mentioned, most people may not realize they have the virus. This does not mean you shouldn't participate in social distancing. We all have grandparents, older parents and family members, friends at high risk, etc. It's a blessing for you to be low risk, but we should not be jeopardizing the health and safety of others who are at greater risk of becoming ill. We are all in this together people, it cannot be only ourselves that we are looking out for. Wash your hands to protect yourself. Wash your hands to protect your neighbors. Wash your hands to protect the student undergoing chemotherapy with a weakened immune system. Wash your hands to protect your grandparent with COPD who already struggles to breathe.
As a nurse I can assure you that there will be plenty of people here to take care of you when you need it. Hospitals nationally are taking huge steps to implement new procedures and protocols designed specifically to keep our patients as safe and healthy as possible while also protecting ourselves as directed by the CDC, WHO, and other federal and state recommendations. As an ER nurse I can assure that we will take care of everybody that walks through our front door with the medically appropriate care for their specific case. The truth is that for the roughly 80% of people that are diagnosed (as estimated by the CDC) the appropriate care will be a regular regiment of Tylenol and Motrin for fever control, increased fluids, and STRICT self quarantine for 14 days. For the smaller percentage of the affected population that require acute medical care we will be there.
Listen, I'm a social person. I have a hard time having a couple days off in a row without plans to keep me busy. I totally get it. Social distancing can be a challenge, but you don't need to combat this by going to your local gym or Target to mosey around and be around other people. I can't stay home all day alone either for days on end, so here's my recommendation. If you aren't sick, but can't stand the idea of being "locked up" at home, get in your car and drive to a local trailhead. Go for a run, a bike ride, or a walk. Get outside, enjoy a little fresh air where the virus probably won't find you and you'll never be in close proximity to another human. There are ways to still enjoy each day without being in close contact with loads of other human being carrying who knows which viruses. Look at it as an opportunity to start an exercise regiment or just enjoy the day outside and absorb some Vitamin D.
PLUS, we don't need to be spending more time at Target than necessary. The more people that flock to Target the less toilet paper there will be on the shelves. This virus does not cause diarrhea. Even if you feel the need to stock up for a possible quarantine I can almost guarantee you won't need 72 rolls of double ply toilet paper for a 14 day quarantine. From the daughter of a wood chip/pulp mill manager I assure you there are plenty of mills in this country to supply us with toilet paper...QUIT HOGGING IT PEOPLE!
Bottom line: there is no need to panic. There is however an increased need to take care of ourselves and those around us. Because I've seen the two extremes on the internet (the panicked mother and the nonchalant adult mocking the precautions) I think it is important to encourage a healthy level of concern. This virus is not a joke and will certainly continue to affect this country and maybe even your specific community so protect as best you can and do whatever you can do to help slow the spread. Wash your hands and follow the guidelines of the CDC. Check out this website which is updated multiple times a day for the latest information and recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Stay happy and healthy people. Log some miles of your own. Stay concerned, but more importantly stay calm. This too shall pass!
The views expressed in this post are strictly my own opinions. They do not reflect the opinions of my employer or your local medical officers. For more information please refer to the CDC website.