Hey folks — I haven't spoken up much, but I feel that I need to now. Please, for the love of God and all that holy, stay home, stop going out, don't get delivery, and don't interact with people in person. Seal yourself into your house/apartment and don't go out.
***If 7 out of 8 people stay home and don't get infected, we can BREAK this pandemic. We can STOP it.***
Think of a forest fire that rages through a forest.
How do you stop it?
You chop down brush in an area.
You refuse to give it fuel.
You build a fire break.
I hold a PhD in Microbiology, concentration in Virology. I used to be a real-live microbiologist who pipetted live virus stocks into cell culture in a hood and worked with radioactive isotopes and everything. I had 6 peer-reviewed scientific papers published before I left science for family reasons. I've worked on epidemics with the UN's World Health Organization. I taught medical school. I've worked on emerging viruses in the lab. I was on the last plane INTO the Dominican Republic to study the polio outbreak for WHO in the 1990s. I need to talk to you about Covid-19.
Okay, so let's talk about Covid-19, this piece of crap virus that's hitting the whole world in a pandemic right now.
Quick thing: this virus is obviously spread by coughing and breathing, not just on surfaces. Washing your hands will prevent maybe 25% of cases. You need to not breathe other peoples' germs to prevent the other 75%.
If you're not sick already, please, again, for the love of God and all that is holy, stay home. Stay isolated. Stay in for as long as you can.
Every additional day that you can stay in your own place and not get infected is an additional day that the medical people can deal with the pandemic before you become a part of it.
If you can stay in for a week before you go out and get groceries, good.
If you can stretch that to 10 or 12 days, better.
If you can go for a month, even better.
If you can keep yourself well for a month or two, you might be treated with drugs instead of getting really sick. If you can go longer, there's a chance for a vaccine.
Also, if you get sick, there is a 15-40% chance (depending on your age, but that 15% is pretty much the lower end) that you will have to be hospitalized and probably on a ventilator, which means medical bills in excess of $200,000. Think about that when you are thinking about going out. Is this thing you're going to worth $200,000 or more in medical bills?
My husband works for Pfizer. There's a lot going on behind the scenes. The pharmaceutical companies are working on treatments and vaccines. The Cleveland Clinic developed a new, better test for Covid-19 in 9 days. Everyone is working on Covid-19 right now.
Also, this virus is obviously airborne. It's not just on surfaces. It's obviously floating in the air and transmitted by aerosolized droplet spread.
I mean, duh. Of course, it is.
All the other coronaviruses are.
That means that you can get it by breathing.
Decontaminate as soon as you get home. Wash your hands with good soap like Dial for a few minutes as a quick stopgap. Gargle with Listerine or something else “antiseptic” until you think you're going to drown. Throw your clothes directly into the washing machine with a lot of detergent. And then get into a shower and soap everything and wash your hair.
Yes, really. That's minimal decon.
It might help. It might keep you from getting it once or twice. Do no use this instead of trying to isolate yourself. Isolation will actually work.
There is some bad, bad information out there that Covid-19 disease is “a bad flu.”
Sweet Baby Jesus's tiny toes, that is wrong.
This virus should be called something like the “Ground Glass Fills Up Your Lungs Pneumonia Virus.”
Literally, that's what it looks like on an X-ray. It looks like your lungs are full of ground glass, and it feels like that when you're trying to breathe, too.
One of the major problems is that it starts slowly for 3 days or so. It's a little tickle, a mild fever, if that. Sometimes, it's nothing. And for 3 days, you walk around spewing virus and don't even know it.
And there are people around you spewing virus who don't know they're sick yet.
That's the real terror of this virus, the “prodromal” phase.
When you get the Flu, it slams into you like a ton of bricks. In 15 minutes, you know you're sick.
Covid-19 is different. It creeps up on you.
And then after 3 days, you get sick. Desperately sick.
When people say a “mild case” of Covid-19 disease, they mean that you don't require hospitalization or else you will die. You're still going to be sick as hell, in bed, gasping for breath and trying to breathe through ground glass for 2 weeks. You may think that you are going to barf up your lungs. It's a very bad disease.
Another piece of terrible information out there is that in the first few days of illness, when the virus is replicating in your throat and upper tract, that you can magically “wash it away” with water or vinegar or something.
Wrong. Oh, so wrong.
Once it's got a foothold and infects a few cells, that battle is lost. The only thing you can do is try not to infect others. If they get sick, they'll be competing for your hospital bed when you are close to dying. Keep away from everybody and try to get through it without infecting anyone else.
Now, why did I say Listerine up there? Because if you can kill the virus before it infects you, then you might have a chance. Once it's established an infection, then it's just virus v. immune system, and you have to try to get well.
I'm sorry about scaring you. I'm scared as hell. I mean, I've worked with HIV, a chickenpox virus that you can get again that had killed 5 people, and an emerging virus that killed a bunch of people in the Southwestern US. I was the kind of microbiologist who would have drunk samples to see what happened. I did my PhD research in a rogue lab that said, Hey! Let's all infect ourselves with this lab virus and see if it makes us immune to smallpox! (We did. It does.)
And this sucker scares me.
Okay, so what else?
The problem is that as people get sick, our medical system is going to be overwhelmed. This will happen in 10 days.
Yes, 10 days from now. Or 9. I wrote this yesterday.
Dead serious here. If we don't all act as a fire-break for this virus, in 10 days, it will be too late.
People you know will die. Probably a lot of them.
1. Stay inside. Stay inside. Stay inside.
2. Stay away from other people.
3. Cancel everything: all concerts, vacations, trips, plays, plane flights, organizations, clubs, church meetings, Sunday services, school, work, restaurants, take-out, lunch dates, dinner dates, golf league, and going out.
4. If you're a boss or an employer, close your place of business unless it's a pharmacy or a grocery store, and then continue to pay your people while it's closed. I have 5 people whom I will be continuing to pay during this time, no matter what. I get it. It's going to hurt, but it will keep those people safe.
Be a leader, not a lagger.
Do the right thing for your employees and customers. Protect them.
5. Get your kids' school/daycare to close. If they don't, first just keep the kids home, and then pull them out of school if you have to, if all their absences are used up. It's drastic. Yes, it is. Call the principal. Call the secretary. Scream at them. Yes, I am hereby giving you permission to frickin' scream at them to close the school.
In the 1918 Flu pandemic, places where the schools closed proactively, before the flu hit hard, had much lower death rates than places that hemmed and hawed about it. Links at the bottom.
6. Don't leave your house.
7. Don't buy fresh produce or bakery items that were made by hand, even if wrapped in plastic. Sorry. The virus is obviously aerosolized. It will settle on anything.
8. Starting now, you will probably want to spray the outsides packages of your groceries with bleach spray (not on the carpet or couch! It's bleach!) and wipe them down. You can make 1% bleach spray in an old spray bottle with 1 part bleach to 99 parts water. Obviously, don't spray this directly on food. Just on the plastic packages.
Again, this is bleach. Do not eat or drink the bleach.
Also, if you don't have bleach, take a bar of soap or a squeeze of dishwashing detergent and make a bin of soapy water. It should feel slippery and take the lotion off of you hands. Dunk things in that for a minute or two. Then rinse.
9. Stock up on food, medicines, vitamins, and pet food and supplies NOW. Sorry about this post being a little late for that.
10. Do not go visit elderly relatives. OMG. Seriously. If you need to give them food, drop it and run while you're healthy. If they need supplies, shop now while you're healthy. And wipe it off with bleach.
I get it. Even though I as a writer have been training for self-quarantine my whole life, it can be weird. So, what's safe-ish to do?
1. Stay home. Sorry, but I had to emphasize that.
2. If you live in the suburbs, ex-urbs, or rural areas, yeah, you can leave your house to go on a solitary walk or with the people you're quarantining with. Walk the dog. Or jog. If you see someone else out, no handshakes, no hugging, no touching. Talk to them from more than 10 feet away. I know this sucks. It really does. I'm sorry. But stay back. If they cough, turn around and walk the hell away. Just pretend they're zombies.
3. Skype/Zoom/Google Hangout/Whatsapp with anyone you want to, for however long you want to, at any time you want to. Do all the Skyping. Make “lunch dates” with friends to eat together while Google Hangouting. This is really fun. I've been doing this with writer friends for a few years now because we are all hermity introverts and live all over the world.
4. Again, if suburbia or on a balcony, start a small garden in some planters. Just some lettuce, radishes, and zucchini will be nice if you can't/shouldn't buy produce. On behalf of your neighbors and humanity, don't plant more than 2 zucchini bushes. Really.
5. Buy some ebooks? Definitely no risk there!
6. Remember your hobby closet? If you're a quilter like I am, it's time to finally dig into your stash. Ditto if you're a knitter, crocheter, or whatever your hobby of choice is.
7. Time to seriously reconnect with your pets. Or your kids. It's up to you.
8. Get enough sleep. Seriously on this one. Getting 7-9 hours really boosts your immune system. That might be the difference between a “mild case” and being hospitalized or on a ventilator for a month, and $100,000s in medical bills.
9. Drink water. Ditto. Immune system. I know, but it's something you can do.
1. Call your MD’s office for advice. Do what they say.
2. TYLENOL/ACETAMINOPHEN or PARACETAMOL, NOT ADVIL OR MOTRIN or NSAIDs. France told people to take Advil, and they’re seeing half of their patients that end up on ventilators are under 60. Like, 18 year olds. NSAIDs of any kind may make this worse.
3. Fluids. Sleep. DO NOT GO OUT.
4. No one in your house should go out. You are now under a 3 week quarantine. Even after you feel better, for 7-10 days after you feel better, you may be infectious and able to spread it.
That's my info. Virtual hugs to all. I will try to keep in touch. Don't panic, but do everything you can to be a fire-break for this pandemic.
Go home and stand firm.
One of the big things is that our governments, pretty much all of them, aren't coming to rescue us on this one.
So, you need to do what you can to protect yourself and your family.
And that means not getting sick, and not passing the virus to others if you do.
Please stay home.
I am praying for you and the whole world. Pray for us all, too.
I'm also posting this publically for sharing. Feel free.
And I'm not going to argue with anybody about “over-reacting” or anything else. Unless you have a PhD in microbiology, epidemiology, or the like, don't argue with me.
If you do have one of those, I know you won't be arguing with me.
LINKS FOR YOU: If anybody needs the WaPo articles because they're behind a paywall, let me know and I'll copy-paste. But the animations are enlightening.
Why staying home works:
Iran is building mass graves that you can see from space.
1918 Flu study on how social distancing works:
Another one, but specific to CT: