INFORMATION ABOUT THE VIRUS
DISCLAIMER: We don't claim to be medical experts, but here are some facts and news stories that could be helpful on this topic.
At Earth Future Action, we would like to do our part to warn people about the severity of the global COVID-9 pandemic, and what they can do to protect themselves and others from the spread of this virus.
SYMPTOMS OF VIRUS
The symptoms of COVID-19 are the following: fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, fatigue, chills, body aches, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nausea and diarrhea. (WebMD)
Infections range from mild to serious. The virus can turn deadly if it leads to pneumonia, respiratory failure, or septic shock. Those most at risk of death are the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. (WebMD) We would recommend people in the listed categories try to stay away from public areas and avoid sick people.
HOW LONG CAN THE VIRUS SURVIVE?
We can recommend some steps that you can take to stay safe and to keep society safe.
WEAR A MASK
Wearing a mask is important when it comes to protecting one's self, and others from the virus. Everyone should be wearing a mask when in public crowded areas to prevent the spread of the virus. Though if you are outside, this is not as much of a concern, as long as there is space between you and other people.
How to put on a mask correctly:
When putting on the mask, make sure it is facing the correct direction and do not put your fingers on the inside of the mask. Also, try not to re-use disposable surgical masks. They are not meant for re-use.
Most masks are better than wearing nothing. The following study shows that the filtering provided by surgical masks is better than nothing.
However, you must be careful in what masks you choose to wear, because new studies have shown that certain types of masks are actually worse than nothing.
A study released by Duke's Physics Department on August 7th, 2020, which studied the effectiveness of various face-masks.
The most effective mask was the N95 mask (but do not frequently re-use them). Surgical masks and cotton masks, which many people have been making at home, also performed well.
Neck fleeces, also called gaiter masks and often used by runners, were the least effective. In fact, wearing a fleece mask resulted in a higher number of respiratory droplets because the material seemed to break down larger droplets into smaller particles that are more easily carried away with air.
Folded bandannas and knitted masks also performed poorly and did not offer much protection.
Can I Wear A Mask More Than Once? (Web MD)
KN95 FACE MASKS
Disclaimer: We cannot personally vouch for these masks. We are simply putting the information out there for those who are curious.
N95 masks are the most protective, offering about 95% filtration rate. However, these masks are in short supply.
A potential alternative is the KN95 masks, which are being produced by Chinese manufacturers.
The CDC has posted a list of these masks with their tested filtration rates.
The FDA has posted a list of which EUA (emergency use authorization) and NON-NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) have received their approval.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. This can bring germs into your body. Only do so if you have washed your hands
Wash your hands:
The best thing we can recommend is to wash your hands. Be sure to use antibacterial soap. You would think washing hands would be a no brainer, but a surprising amount of people don't wash their hands properly. (Medical Xpress). A look around the world shows that washing the hands with water and soap leads to a 30% reduction in respiratory infections. (Tropical Medicine and International Health).
When first coming home, do not touch common household objects like the computer, remote or phone until you wash your hands.
According to the CDC, people should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, after blowing the nose, and after coughing or sneezing.
When You Unpack Your Groceries:
You should wipe down your refrigerator and your outside and inside front door handle.
Outside of the Home:
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. We recommend Purell. (Purell products on Amazon)
You can also use wet wipes. We recommend Wet Ones.
Avoid Contact With Germs And Sick People
The CDC has some good guidelines for avoiding disease. While the linked page refers to the Coronavirus, it has good tips for disease prevention in general.
In addition to washing the hands, here are some other guidelines.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay away from anything they are breathing. Do not shake hands with them.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Don't Share Personal Effects With Other People:
Personal objects like toothbrushes and towels should never be shared with other people.
Clean and Disinfect Household Objects:
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes. Clorox wipes are useful.
Remember that germs can survive on a surface anywhere from only a few minutes to several days. But most are no longer dangerous after 24 hours. (PBS)
Also clean your phone.
If you buy takeout, you can kill germs by putting your food in the oven. In a traditional oven, we recommend around 2-4 minutes at about 200 degrees. We can't guarantee this will kill all the germs, but it's a start. Now a microwave itself won't kill germs, but the heat could.
For takeout salads, or any cold food, if you're worried about germs, you can try waiting for about 24 hours. Once again, we don't guarantee all the germs will die in that time, but it should help.
With raw vegetables and raw fruits without a peal, be sure to wash them, to get rid of germs and chemicals.
At a Restaurant:
We also warn people to be cautious about restaurants, since you never know who is sick or coughing when they're preparing the food. Also, many restaurants have problems with pests. There's a limit to how cautious a person can be, before it starts becoming inconvenient. But if you are at a restaurant and see a sanitation issue, we would recommend discussing it with a manager.
Eat as healthy as you can.
Get enough sleep at night. 7-9 hours are recommended. "The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight." (Help Guide).
Sleepyti.me is a good resource for calculating when you should go to bed if you want to be well rested by a certain time.
There are also recommendations for getting a better quality of sleep. These usually involve not doing exciting activities right before bed (like watching an action packed movie). It is better to do a quiet, relaxing activity that doesn't involve too much light, like reading, taking a bath, yoga, general relaxing.
The perfect is the enemy of the good. Some exercise is better than none at all. In fact, no exercise at all, sitting around all day, is terrible for health.
The Mayo Clinic says the following: Don't spend too much time inactive. In the same way that exercise is good for your health, too much sitting around and being inactive can be terrible for your health. "Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns. They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels." (Mayo Clinic).
For people who are busy at an office job (or similar type of sitting job) and don't have much time to exercise, we would recommend that they at least try to get up from time to time and walk around. People should also take breaks from staring at their screens, as this can cause eye strain.
In terms of the ideal amount of exercise, the Mayo Clinic recommends 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week or 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. 30 minutes a day is a good goal, but as we mentioned above, even if all you can do is 5 minutes of walking around, that is much better than nothing at all.
The benefits of exercise according to Medicine Line Plus are that it can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, help your body manage sugar and insulin levels, help you quit smoking, improve your mental health and mood, and boost your immune system.
Some people stuck in quarantine at home think they might not be able to exercise because they cannot go to the gym. But there are still many great ways to get a work out in despite this limitation. Going outside, walking around, and getting fresh air can be great for your health as well as your lungs (as long as you are avoiding public areas with lots of people). Finding work out videos on YouTube and doing them at home can also be a great way to get in some basic exercises.
Stress is also a major cause of disease. We understand that with a global pandemic stress for many is going to be inevitable. However, health experts recommend certain techniques to keep stress to manageable levels, so it does not overwhelm your life and damage your health.
Webmd advises keeping a positive attitude, accepting that there are events you cannot control, practicing relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation, exercising regularly (as we mentioned above), eating healthy (as we also mentioned above), avoiding stressful events and people, making time for hobbies and enjoyable activities, seeking out social support, avoiding depressants (like drugs and alcohol), and seeking therapy or some other type of mental health professional if your stress is starting to become too overwhelming.
Finding ways to help others during hard times is also a good way to manage and limit stress. People in general become stressed out when they feel like events are beyond their control. So finding a positive way to make a difference (no matter how small) can help manage feelings like stress, despair and depression.
Activities to help other people at this time can include donating food to the needy, donating money to a worthy cause (definitely do your research first charity navigator), helping the elderly and the sick (at a safe social distance), and offering support to a person who may feel isolated or lonely.
DON'T PANIC - BE PREPARED
Wide spread hysteria and panic over disease can sometimes be as dangerous as the disease itself.
So instead of panicking, we suggest being prepared.
Keep your medicine cabinet stocked with the basics: thermometer, alcohol wipes (like wet ones), disinfectants, gauze, band-aids, rubbing alcohol, painkillers, etc.
HELP THE COMMUNITY
There are some measures you can take to help those who are food insecure right now, due to having to stay home, or the shops being depleted of supplies. You can shop online for food for the needy and have it delivered via Amazon.
WHAT IS THE CORONAVIRUS?
What is the Coronavirus? (WebMD)
The 10 most common questions on the coronavirus answered (Aljazeera, 2-27-20)
3 charts that compare coronavirus to previous outbreaks (World Economic Forum, 2-19-20)
Coronavirus can travel twice as far as official ‘safe distance’ and stay in air for 30 minutes, Chinese study finds (South China Morning Post, 3-9-20)
Pack of 50 Disposable Face Masks (Amazon)
How to Make Your Own Fabric Face Mask (Health line)
How to Make a CDC-Approved Cloth Face Mask (Wired, 4-23-20)
AIRBORNE NATURE OF THE VIRUS
"Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1" (The New England Journal of Medicine, 3-17-20)
U.S. RESPONSE TO VIRUS
'Terrifying' New Research Warns 2.2 Million Could Die From Coronavirus in US Without Drastic Action (Common Dreams, 3-17-20)
How Can the US Confront Coronavirus With 28 Million People Uninsured? (Truthout, 2-27-20)
CDC declined to test new coronavirus patient for days, California hospital says (The Hill, 2-27-20)
Sanders rips Pence: His last response to an epidemic was to 'pray' it away (The Hill, 2-27-20)
A faulty CDC coronavirus test delays monitoring of disease’s spread (Washington DC, 2-25-20)
As demand spikes for medical equipment, this Texas manufacturer is caught in coronavirus’s supply chain panic (The Washington Post, 2-15-20)
Silent Threat of the Coronavirus: America’s Dependence on Chinese Pharmaceuticals (Eco-Watch, 2-12-20)
We Don’t Have Enough Masks (The Atlantic, 1-30-20)
THE CORONAVIRUS AND TRUMP
Coronavirus triggers swift bipartisan backlash against Trump (Politico, 2-25-20)
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO VIRUS
History of Pandemics (Visual Capitalist)