The Corona/China/Covid19 virus is a reality. What the concern here is the correct response to the actual threat the virus deserves. Some consider this ridiculous, some consider this the end of the world and some just don’t know. Our responses are based on what information we decide to enter our mix to formulate our opinion. Watching Fox News this morning the opening of the show reminded me of a B movie that I decided was not worth watching. Fear is leading everything and that is a bad leader. Should this be an overblown reaction I hope people promoting this are held responsible and our fear is unfounded. If this is truly a major threat we do have to do our duty and do whatever it is we can. Remember this entire crisis is about other people and our reactions toward them. Can we take care of ourselves and others? Yes we can.
I’m a laboratory director who has worked for over 20 years to decrease fear and panic of environmental concerns unless they should be truly a significant risk. I will begin by saying that most of the fear and panic is media generated with manipulation of fear to drive behavior. A response to fear can be real enough to cause greater damage than what you are fearful of. When the news agencies raise concerns there is a need to process what they have said and I hope to instill reason and understanding on how to properly respond.
Since most of what you have heard is hearsay or second-hand knowledge at best coming from lawyers or news folks, you must hold that against what you know is true. I do not believe in conspiracy theories, I know people are doing things, so I call them speculation theories. We are all trying to figure out what they are doing and why. Approaching this from a scientific frame of mind, and knowing only a few things to be true, how do we come up with a solid plan? A plan to put each one of us in a strong position to weather through all the nonsense while taking care of what absolutely is necessary should something really be happening.
Cleanliness and Health
We are dealing with presumably a virus. According to recent Newsweek article bylined by Jenni Fink that quoted epidemiologists, with the virus is present you have a ~13.8% chance of contracting it and having severe symptoms. To reduce that chance of contracting the virus we are told to wash our hands with plenty of soap. [JWR Adds: Soap does indeed work well to break up the lipid shell of a virus, making it incapable of replicating.] This is true, so do that. A sneeze puts microscopic droplets (aerosols) in the air, containing extremely small viruses. These droplets float around in air, then settle on surfaces. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask to limit your exposure We are told to limit close contact, also good. Cleanliness is incredibly important.
Your shoes bring in an incredible amount of foreign material into your household, leave them in the garage, outside, or in a specific spot, don’t wear them around the house, pretty simple. Work clothes, if they are dirty, take them off outside your living area. Dirty clothes, clean them, don’t let them pile up in your bedroom. Counters and horizontal surfaces, keep them clean, put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or clean them, don’t let them hang around in the sink. These are some of the things you should consider. Here’s why:
Those Floating Motes
Have you ever sat near a window and a ray of sunshine beams through and you see all the tiny particulate in the air floating around? Assuming you have, my specialty is analyzing and telling you what you are seeing and what it is composed of. Generally, this stuff flying around is the general wear and tear of your house, clothes, your skin, others and life in your house, outside stuff coming in your house and so on.
Generally we find cellulose and synthetic fibers (clothes) lots of skin fragments (you) Mold, danders from pets, combustion products, pollens, and so on. We have been breathing this in since the day we were born, it’s normal and our bodies can handle it. If one of these categories becomes overwhelmingly large or a foreign particulate becomes added to the mix, odds increase of a possible reaction and we are all about decreasing them. For example, mold counts go up because a leaky waterline to your fridge and it soaks your drywall in an area you don’t normally look at. You feel different, something is not right, you begin researching on the Internet and you conclude you may have a mold problem (sometimes at this point people think you’re crazy) along with a dose of fear many websites thrive on. Some people panic and are told to move out of their homes and they do. A legal mess usually ensues. A reasonable investigation will find the mold, remove the stuff, clean up, and things go back to normal.
I tell you this because the one thing you cannot do is remove all possibility of contact with particulates but with reasoned thought and actions you can minimize risk. Minimizing airborne dusts can help reduce possible contact. Change your furnace filters. If you’re especially concerned about indoor air quality then get a free-standing electric HEPA air-cleaner at store such as Home Depot. You will notice the clarity of your air increase dramatically. These are simple solutions, known to be true, and will help minimize risk and alleviate the fear of the unknowns.
Here in Michigan there are Ad Council billboards telling people to prepare for an emergency and they have been up for years. Folks I have seen in the stores are not panicking, they are prepping rather quickly. I think they look a bit sheepish knowing they should have listened and done this sooner. Good for them. My hope is that this is the beginning of a great awakening. Eyes open and ears hearing.
Jesus said “fear not”. He also said “beware of the scribes.” He also said be confident in his word, that is truly the only thing we can be certain is true.