With no clear end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may feel more than a little anxious right now.
Scary news reports. Overloaded hospital emergency rooms. Quarantines and stay-at-home orders.
This is serious. But it’s important for your mental health to stay calm, stay informed and keep this situation in perspective.
Here are 10 facts and guidelines — mostly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — to give you some perspective, help you take control of what you can and hopefully ease some of your anxiety.
1. Realize that top people are on the job.
Government and health officials, researchers and even the military are working around the clock to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Makeshift hospitals are being built. Private industries are mobilizing to manufacture respirators, masks and other medical equipment. The Navy has deployed hospital ships to the east and west coasts to help care for people with other ailments so that hospitals can focus on patients with COVID-19.
People across the country are working together to fight this war against coronavirus and help keep us safe.
2. Remind yourself of the facts and be prepared.
reports are disturbing. Still, they do give you some perspective about what’s happening so you can take practical steps to prepare.
- Most COVID-19 illness is mild. However, a report from China suggests that serious illness occurs in 16% of cases.
- Older people and people of all ages with severe chronic medical conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19.
The American Red Cross recommends that you have over-the-counter medicines and supplies (thermometer, tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
3. Gain a sense of control by taking simple steps to protect yourself and others.
The virus spreads between people who are in close contact with each other and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. To avoid exposure:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily — tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
- Practice social distancing. Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
4. Reduce fear of the unknown — be aware of COVID-19 symptoms and know when to call the doctor.
Patients might develop these symptoms two to 14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath
Get medical attention right away if someone develops:
- Bluish lips or face
- Confusion or inability to arouse
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Trouble breathing
Consult your doctor if you have questions or notice other severe symptoms.
5. Know that the CDC is working to help equip state and local public labs with more testing capacity.
CDC has developed a test to diagnose COVID-19. And now, commercial manufacturers are also producing their own tests.
6. Take comfort knowing that researchers are searching for new treatments.
The CDC has grown the COVID-19 virus in a cell culture. Researchers are using this cell culture to test the ability of existing or experimental medications to treat or prevent the disease. Scientists are also analyzing how the virus is transmitted, how it spreads in the body, how long it can live on surfaces and at what temperatures it can survive.
7. Know that the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water.
According to the CDC, most municipal drinking water systems use treatment methods, filtration and disinfection, which should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.
8. There’s no evidence that COVID-19 spreads through food.
Researchers think that coronaviruses spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. As a precaution, always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before preparing or eating food.
9. If you’ve completed quarantine or isolation, you no longer pose a risk to others.
For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure. According to the
CDC, someone who hasn’t developed illness during the incubation period isn’t considered at risk for spreading the virus.
If you’ve had the virus and your doctor releases you from isolation, you’re no longer considered to pose a risk to others either. Doctors decide on a case-by-case basis when you are fully recovered.
10. No need to stockpile large amounts of groceries and supplies.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging people to buy only what they need for a week — to help ensure there’s enough for everyone. Grocery chains say plenty of food, cleaning supplies and medical items are in the supply chain. The groceries are being shipped as quickly as possible. The stores just need time to clean and restock.
For a list of trusted mental health resources and hotlines, as well as information about free mental health assessments available, visit tanner.org/behavioral-health-care/resources.
You can also visit cdc.gov/COVID19 to keep up with the latest news and recommendations regarding the virus. To find out more about what Tanner Health System is doing to address COVID19, visit tanner.org/ncov.