Reducing COVID-19 Risk
Information evolves, and in something like a pandemic, the story changes daily.
The threat of severe health impairment, death, or significant mood impairment, brings up many questions and concerns. A desperate and frightened caller might seek answers to their current perplexing, pandemic-related situation: updated information, a different perspective, and a broader view can be helpful.
How can I best survive in the coming months?
The pandemic continues as a frightening experience, with much uncertainty and social unrest. The protesting in the streets about all the issues our society and government have failed to acknowledge and remedy creates more dread and worry. Are there practical things I can do to be safer, ensure a better future for myself and children, and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem?
Response: There are many proactive steps that you can do to help bring an end to the pandemic and support the societal and government changes that need to happen.
First, to protect the health and wellbeing of you and your family, keep tuned into the latest news and recommendation from reputable sources, but especially be careful to avoid any politically motivated misinformation. The COVID-19 infections and spread will continue until effective anti-viral drugs and vaccines are available. The other need ingredient is active local, state, and national efforts to put in place adequate testing and contact tracing. The vulnerable for whom COVID-19 can be a deadly illness, need to avoid any crowding in closed spaces, especially where people are not wearing masks and social distancing of at least 6 feet.
Those vulnerable to life-threatening infections would include people with obesity, diabetes, smokers with chronic respiratory disease, blood type A, kidney, and cardiovascular (heart) disease, low vitamin D levels, and immune deficiencies. A hefty dose of the virus can cause a significant COVID-19 infection. Occurrences happen when in close contact for any length of time in a closed space with carriers of COVID-19, especially if they are coughing, sneezing, yelling, screaming, not wearing masks, or physically distancing. The infirmed that need to be in nursing, rehab, or extended-care facilities will require facilities or hospitals that are following the best available public health guidelines.
Anytime you can change your lifestyle as improved nutrition, stop smoking, lose excess weight, exercise regularly, you can reduce your risk of infection. Get proper information assistance from healthcare experts, health coaches, reliable online or TV sources, and classes – whatever you can do to move in a definite health improvement direction. In terms of getting more effective leadership and policymakers, get useful information from a non-politically motivated source. Support the leaders that you feel will make a difference and then get out and vote.
Masks and physical (social) distancing need to be strictly adhered to while the pandemic continues to spread and endanger the lives of the most vulnerable. Also, not wearing masks or physical distancing prolongs the shut down of our economy. Any encouragement not to follow the public health guidelines by the influential voices in government and the community is criminal, in my opinion, as it enables the virus to spread with its deadly impact on those not able to defend themselves adequately.
Masks were made to protect the person that you may breath-on, cough on, or sneeze on. Remember, a lot of spreaders of COVID-19 are pre-asymptomatic and are unaware that they are carrying the virus. The cover may provide some protection for yourself. To provide a high level of protection for yourself, if you're in a vulnerable risk category for catching a severe COVID-19 infection, you would almost have to wear the type of personal protective equipment and masks that hospital personnel wears as the N95 masks. Wearing a mask is an essential part of the control of infection spread, contagion, and for the prevention of infection in others, and yourself - especially when you can't maintain physical distancing of a least six feet.
Anytime you’re going to spend time near anybody who is not part of your household, wear a mask. You need to spend minimal time in indoor spaces with non-household members. Move as many activities as possible outdoors. Vitamin D from outdoor activity and sunshine has potential protective benefits against COVID-19. Many dying from COVID-19 has low Vitamin D levels. Remember to wash your hands frequently. Isolate yourself and stay home away from others if you feel sick.
Contaminated surfaces may also spread the infection. Hence, until we know better, it is essential to use sanitizers and wipes to decontaminate any possible exposed area and to do frequent handwashing.
Will I be at more risk for COVID-19 or recurrence of mood problems, if I have suffered from anxiety and depression in the past?
Response: Most experts feel that if you are prone to depression and anxiety or have suffered it in the past, you will be at higher risk for a recurrent mood or anxiety problems, especially during or after the pandemic.
The pandemic situation creates a pressure-cooker like affect with mounting stresses and anxieties especially when society shuts down to limited contagion, without the usual social support, connection, and recreational activities to “let off steam.” Also, the closed-in situation, reduced exercise, and avoidance of public places lead to an increase in poor nutrition, weight gain, development of diabetes, and other chronic degenerative health conditions.
Having a new onset or a recurrence of significant anxiety or depression can cause a vulnerable state and possibly increase the risk of acquiring or having more severe consequences from a viral illness. If signs and symptoms of depression or anxiety begin to surface, seek out the advice and treatment if necessary of a mental health specialist or a practitioner. See the article on depression
Thank you for your interest and review of this article. You are welcome to make comments below and to share this article with others.
Ron Parks MD
Consultation is available with Dr. Parks by telephone or telemedicine services. To schedule a session or if you need a question answered, fill in the contact form at https://parksmd.com/scheduling/.
**The above is for informational and educational purposes only, not as medical or mental health advice. It is the reader’s responsibility to direct personal medical or mental health questions to their primary care provider and specialty physicians. The information and statements contained in this material are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or to replace the recommendations or advice given to you by your primary or direct care providers.
Your reliance on any information provided by Dr. Parks is solely at your discretion. You are advised not to disregard medical advice from your primary or direct care providers, or delay seeking medical advice or treatment because of information contained in this article. Management of severe mental or physical health problems should remain under the care and guidance of your primary care physicians, specialist, or psychiatrists.
Lead-in photo for the article: ©RRPMD
REFERENCES & LINKS
The number of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Covid-19 can spread without symptoms – The New York Times, Morning, June 28, 2020
The Mental Health Aftermath of COVID-19, Medscape Psychiatry Psychiatry, by John Whyte, MD, MPH; Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD; Laurel S. Mayer, MD
Epidemiologists weigh-in on personal concerns and risks related to COVID-19, “When 511 Epidemiologists Expect to Fly, Hug and Do 18 Other Everyday Activities Again” By Margot Sanger-Katz, Claire Cain Miller and Quoctrung Bui, The New York Times June 8, 2020
Five rules to guide you COVID-19 from the New York Times Coronavirus Briefing by Tara Parker-Pope June 9, 2020
Vitamin D Protection Against COVID-19, Medscape by JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH May 11, 2020
Typical Western Diet full of high fat, highly processed junk food filled with added sugar impact brain function and lead to overeating, obesity and related diseases from the Longevity Magazine Free E-Journal, June 8, 2020