I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling immensely overwhelmed.
This unprecedented period of global health crises is altering every aspect of our lives, uprooting our mental, physical, social, and emotional well-being. Every day seems to bring fresh waves of fear as we struggle to understand and adapt and endure.
But knowledge is power — and peace. Seeking to better understand how to navigate these troubling times, I reached out to health professionals to gives us the answers we needed. Today, four experts tell us about where to find trustworthy info, why you should stop (!!!) buying masks, and if hand washing really is THAT important (spoiler alert: IT IS).
There is so much information going around about COVID-19. Where can people go to find good, factual information?
Grace Traster, RN: A good place to go for information is the CDC website (www.cdc.gov), they have lots of factual information not only about COVID-19, but other health topics too!
Mattie Scholz, RN: The best place to get factual and informative information would be the CDC website. You can also look at your local healthcare systems websites. In Utah you can go to www.intermountainhealthcare.org for accurate information and ways to seek medical care if needed. Avoid the ER’s unless it’s a real emergency, this will help limit any overwhelming of the healthcare systems.
Dr. Brent Childers: The popular media is certainly publishing with an agenda, and the CDC is being handicapped by the government. The president is trying to salvage the economy and not induce panic, but in doing so is withholding some information, as are the majority of governments. Understandable, they want to prevent panic among their citizens, and preserve their economies.
A very good podcast with daily updated information is Coronavirus Central. (coronaviruscentral.net, or on Apple podcasts or Spotify). The presenter is Tom Kawczynski and he seems to have no agenda other than to provide unbiased research and information. He does not appear to be politically motivated, and you can’t even send him money yet. You can buy his book on Amazon, but it is only $10. I did buy it because it is pretty short and has useful information, and I want to support his cause. (Surviving Coronavirus On Any Budget).
*Note: Find an article recommended by Dr. Brent Childers on the differences between the flu and COVID-19 here.
In addition to washing their hands, how can people keep themselves and their families safe and healthy?
Grace Traster, RN: In addition to washing your hands, some other ways to keep your family safe and healthy are to minimize contact with sick people, get plenty of rest, and to stay home if one is feeling ill. People really underestimate how much rest it takes to get over something simple like the common cold–rest doesn’t mean going about your daily life chugging as much vitamin c as you can, it means staying home from work, asking for help with the kids so you can take a nap, drinking lots of fluids and going to bed ON TIME. Supplemental vitamins such as vitamin C and zinc/essential oils can be helpful, but they are no substitution for getting proper REST.
Mattie Scholz, RN: The number one advice I can give is to continue to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and to keep your family away from crowded areas. If you are going out in public be sure to continue to use hand sanitizer when entering a facility and leaving a facility. In your home, Clorox surfaces daily. The number one concern with COVID-19 is passing it along to those that are higher risk such as those over the age of 60 and those with chronic medical conditions. It is important to keep your family away from those that are at more risk. Just use common sense in regards to personal hygiene.
Dr. Brent Childers: Washing hands is important. Staying away from large groups is recommended (but really, you only need to contact one person who has contacted one person.) So the best thing is reduce exposure to other people, keep you distance (6 feet is recommended), don’t shake hands or give hugs, and do whatever you can to build your natural immune system – fluids, rest, nutrition, decrease stress. You might also try natural antivirals such as Zinc, Oil of Oregano, Master Tonic (such as Fire Cider), and decrease sugar intake.
What rumors or myths should people beware of when protecting themselves against COVID-19 and other illnesses?
Grace Traster, RN: A rumor going around is how wearing a mask won’t prevent you from getting sick. The masks don’t do very much to PROTECT a healthy individual from GETTING the disease–what the masks do is prevent SICK individuals from SPREADING the disease. This is because COVID-19 is spread by droplets that may occur when someone is talking, coughing, and sneezing. If you are feeling sick, you should be staying at home anyway, so there is no need to wear a mask.
Mattie Scholz, RN: The number one way to protect yourself is hand washing. Those that need to wear masks should be those in a higher risk category. If you are in the higher risk category you should not be in public areas and should self-quarantine. Those that need masks and special protective wear are those working in the hospital with direct contact.
Dr. Brent Childers: Masks help the infected persons to not spread the disease when they cough or sneeze, but unless they are N95 or N99, most of the air you breath in goes around the mask, not through it. Also, wearing a mask causes people to reach up and touch the mask, and their face more frequently – and touching your face, eyes, nose, mouth can transmit the virus from your hands (doesn’t penetrate) to mucous membranes where it does penetrate.
Emily Dickson, RN: Masks – Many people don’t know that N95 masks (which are the masks you need for COVID-19 because they prevent droplets from coming though) are only effective if they have been fitted to your face by a professional. Even a weight gain or loss of 3 lbs requires a refitting. So it’s not doing the general public much good by buying out all the masks, because they wouldn’t be fitted properly to them anyway. But it is harming the healthcare system. Currently masks are on back order, so hospital workers that NEED the protection do not have access to it. If healthcare workers get infected, COVID-19 will spread like a wildfire. So please stop buying masks!
There is so much panic going around. What kind of measures can people take to feel more at ease?
Mattie Scholz, RN: If you continue to wash your hands and stay out of public areas it decreases your risk significantly. You can’t just stop life, but you can be smart about how you go about the things you need to do each day.
Dr. Brent Childers: All of the above, and have enough food, water, and supplies that you don’t have to make frequent trips to the store, and you could self quarantine in your home for 14-30 days. Also, get a months worth of medications, particularly prescription, but also things like Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc. Be aware of what is going on in the news, but consider the agendas. Seek reliable information as in question 1. Also note that most small children seem to be minimally affected, but can be vectors as we all know. 😉
Emily Dickson, RN: While many won’t be seriously affected by the actual virus, almost everyone will be affected in terms of the economy, and access to products we are used to having on our shelves. So many products that we consume are produced in China, and with so many factories closed, or running at a slower rate due to being short staffed, there will be a delay in things getting restocked. So think about what is essential to you (formula, medications, etc) and try to have a 14-30 day supply of those things.
What are the most important factors for staying safe and healthy right now?
Grace Traster, RN: I think the most important factors to staying healthy right now are hand washing, staying at home if you are feeling sick, and also, as hard as it may be, to stay away or keep some distance from family or friends who are older or are immunocompromised (have a low or impaired immune system) in any way–this includes people taking medication for cancer, people with cystic fibrosis, people with uncontrolled asthma, uncontrolled HIV infection, or those who may already be fighting a cold or a flu.
It is a difficult thing to do and can feel isolating, but it is very important not only to protect ourselves but to protect our elderly and our sick. As much as we love our grandparents, the most loving thing we can do right now is stay at home and wait until all of this blows over, or at least wait 14 days after traveling before seeing our grandparents.
Mattie Scholz, RN: To continue to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds several times a day and to stay out of public areas where the risk of contracting the virus increases.
Dr. Brent Childers: All the above, and the usual things – rest, nutrition, prepare but don’t over stress. “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”
Emily Dickson, RN: Try to avoid going in public and please please please stay at home if you are sick! Prepare, but try not to stress, as we all know what that does to our immune systems.
What have your experiences in your field taught you about healthcare throughout the country and the world?
Grace Traster, RN: My experience as a nurse has taught me that it is very important to talk openly with my patients about things they can do to keep themselves healthy, especially when they are at home back into their daily routine. Believe it or not, things like hand washing, basic dental care, and even bathing/hygiene need to be reiterated to many patients depending on their living conditions or health status.
Mattie Scholz, RN: I am an Emergency Room nurse who has worked in a Trauma 1 ER and small ER as well and the number one thing is the overuse of the Emergency Room there is. This is what causes a virus such as COVID-19 to spread so rapidly.
Patients come to the ER for simple things such as an earache or tooth pain this is usually due to not having health insurance. The problem begins when those that need Emergency care and are compromised they could be exposed to virus by someone who is overall healthy and has COVID-19 and is unaware that they have it. Since COVID-19 has become an epidemic the ERs have been flooded and has caused more diagnosis of the virus then there needed to be due to overuse of the healthcare system.
Dr. Brent Childers: The way this is spreading, we will likely all be exposed at some point. Right now the goal is to slow it down so that the medical resources (ICU beds, personnel, etc.) aren’t taxed beyond capabilities, and there is time to find cures, etc.
What do you wish more people knew about health in the current climate?
Grace Traster, RN: Something I wish people knew about the current health climate really just circles back to basics–proper rest, nutrition, and hydration. A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, and adequate protein intake is necessary. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite snacks or sweets every now and then, but it does mean you should be eating well-balanced meals every day, your water intake should surpass your caffeine/soda/alcohol intake, and that you should be getting enough rest, even if it means leaving happy hour early to get home and get ready for bed on time or turning off the Netflix/Hulu/Prime/Disney+ to go to bed at a decent hour, not drinking alcohol if you feel a tickle in your throat. We really underestimate these “basic” principles of health that make a huge difference!
Mattie Scholz, RN: I wish more people were more aware of those around them. If you have common cold symptoms or any symptoms that you need to stay home and take care of yourself and not go out in public to infect those around you. You do not need to head to the ER or doctor’s office for every little symptom unless you have underlying health concerns. There are so many other options to seek medical advice such as connect care, where you can speak to a medical professional through a Skype system and they can give advice on how you need to proceed with your illness.
Dr. Brent Childers: One way to looks at this is a war against an enemy that we can’t communicate with. Its goal is to spread itself to as many hosts as it can. Our goal is to stop this from happening, or at least mitigate the negative effects. The world governments and health systems must come together and cooperate with each other to defeat this enemy.
Stay safe, everyone! (And WASH THOSE HANDS!)