Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus

By 
Dr. J. Renae Norton

First of all don’t panic if you have symptoms.
It’s possible you have something other than the virus, especially if you have been observing the Shelter At Home order. If you are in a state where the leadership is too dumb to put one in place then take it upon yourself to do so if you possibly can and you will significantly reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus or passing it on.

The symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 have some distinct differences, but they also have similarities and knowing the difference can save you a lot of anxiety. People who have the flu will typically experience symptoms within 1-4 days of being exposed. The symptoms for COVID 19 can develop between 1-14 days. I know, that is a long incubation period. According to the most recent research, the median incubation period for COVID -19 is 5.1 days. As a point of comparison, the incubation period for a cold is days 1-3.

The problem with that info, is that it assumes that you know if you were exposed, and you may not since the vast majority of the nation has no tests and because you can have the virus and be asymptomatic (have no symptoms). If you know you were exposed and when, this info can help alleviate your fears of being sick with the virus if sufficient time has passed.

For example, I just discovered that I was exposed, by my physician, no less, to the virus about 6 weeks ago. I have had no symptoms so I can feel fairly confident that I will not get sick from that exposure. (I only just found out that he was sick in a follow up telemedicine session with him two weeks ago, when he shared with me that he and his wife both tested positive for the virus. At that point, I recalled that he was sick when I saw him in person 4 weeks earlier.)

Fortunately, I stopped seeing patients in person and anyone else about 3 ½ weeks ago, before Shelter in Place was mandated, just to be safe even though I had no reason to think that I had been exposed at that point. Given that I was exposed, and that the virus can be transmitted by people with no symptoms, I am certainly glad that I took that precaution. So far, none of my patients have the virus thank goodness!

The issue then is whether or not you could have the virus and not know it, in which case you could pass it on. Since we are one of the only countries in the world not doing widespread testing for the virus, the only thing we can do to stay safe and keep others safe is STAY AT HOME AND HAVE NO CONTACT with other people.

As of April 4th, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that Americans wear cloth face coverings (masks) in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

This recommendation is being made based on studies that show a significant proportion of people with COVID-19 lack symptoms and can transmit the virus to others in close proximity, through speaking, coughing, sneezing or other means.

I am wearing a mask when I go out. Not because I think it will protect me, because I know that it will not, but because in countries where everyone wore masks, the spread of the virus was significantly less than it already is here in the US. I am wearing the mask in hopes that others will follow suit.

I have only been out of the house 4 times in the past 3 ½ weeks. I only go to the bank, (where I use the drive-through, spray the canister, wearing gloves, and even spray off the money when I get it home) or to pick up my farm share milk and produce, which are sitting on the front porch of my neighbor, where I no longer sign the form using the pen provided, but take a note with a list of my purchases and drop it in the bag which I only touch with gloves on.

Other Things to Remember

  • Remember COVID19 virus can live on surfaces for up to 5 days – spray and disinfect everything coming into our home. Wear gloves when you get the mail in or if you go to a drive through such as the bank. Wash your hands!
  • It can linger in the air for up to three hours.
  • Masks may help to prevent the spread for those who are infected, but do not offer much protection otherwise.
  • Use delivery services if at all possible. Don’t touch the items without gloves. Have the delivery person leave them on your porch. Just spray the items off before you put them away.
  • Remember that anyone you come into contact with could have the virus even if they are not symptomatic and can pass it on to you. So limit any and all outings and if you have to go out, keep your distance
  • Understand that it is highly unlikely that we will know who has it and who does not because we are not testing the general population and only a small percentage of the potentially sick population. So stay at home! Really, stay at home.
  • If a family member is exposed at work, consider isolating from that person. Health care workers are at greatest risk and may also put their families at risk unintentionally.

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH, strongly recommends that Ohioans take the following actions:

  • Use coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and public parks.
  • Maintain 6-feet social distancing whenever possible, even if you are wearing a face covering.
  • DO NOT place cloth face coverings on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • DO NOT use medical supply masks, which must be reserved for healthcare workers, first responders, and people who are known to be sick.
  • Make cloth face coverings from household items or common materials. Use multiple layers of a fabric that does not damage or lose shape when laundered or machine dried.
  • Support small businesses selling fabric masks at a reasonable price, but watch out for scammers offering high-priced or so-called superior masks.
  • Use coverings that fit snugly but comfortably and allow for breathing without restriction. Secure with ties or ear loops.

I found a really good no-sew mask. It was so easy and the mask I made is incredibly comfortable because it was made out of 100% organic cotton. Check out how to make it below!

Until next time be safe and stay well!
Best,

Dr. Norton

T Shirt Face Mask
Step One
Cut the bottom seven to eight inches off of a clean t shirt. I prefer organic cotton, but any material will suffice.

Step Two
Cut a square out of the section of t shirt. This is to create the strings to hold the mask in . Be sure to leave plenty of fabric to cover your nose and mouth completely. Cut the center of the tie string sections so they make two pieces to tie together.

Step Three
Secure the mask over face by using the tie strings. Tie one set behind the neck and one set around the head completely covering your nose and mouth.

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Materials contained on this site are made available solely for educational purposes and as part of an effort to raise general awareness of the psychological treatments available to individuals with health issues. These materials are not intended to be, and are not a substitute for, direct professional medical or psychological care based on your individual condition and circumstances. Dr. J. Renae Norton does not diagnose or treat medical conditions. While this site may contain descriptions of pharmacological, psychiatric and psychological treatments, such descriptions and any related materials should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified mental health care provider. You are advised to consult your medical health provider about your personal questions or concerns.