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How to Prepare for Coronavirus

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Don’t be gross like this guy! Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze! Photo by James Gathany via wikimedia commons

One of the hopes when watching China’s coronavirus outbreak was that the harm was exaggerated. However now that San Francisco has declared a state of emergency, we all need to start paying more attention and prepare for coronavirus.

According to The Atlantic, Marc Lipsitch, a Harvard University epidemiologist, predicts the coronavirus “will ultimately not be containable” and, within a year, will infect somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of humanity.” 

Because we all have short attention spans, I’ll go over how to avoid infection first, and then tell you more about what the hell this virus is.

What Can We do to Avoid Infection?

This delightful Creative Commons image come from Petr Kratochvil

We can do a few things that we’ve probably heard before. While there’s no guarantee they will protect us from infection, they can reduce our risk. These are just as useful for avoiding influenza (flu) virus infection during flu season as it is for dodging the coronavirus. The short version is, be less gross, but here’s how to do it:

• Wipe your phones twice a day and computers twice weekly with a disinfectant wipe.

• Wipe all surfaces with disinfectant wipes at least once a week.

• Clean your hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-95% alcohol, or wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• Avoid touching your face, including rubbing your eyes, nose, and mouth.

• If you know someone who has been infected with COVID-19, get a properly fitting N-95 mask. You would need to ensure that it fits you. If you have a regular surgical mask you would want to change the mask every 30 minutes (once it gets moist). While a mask seems like a good idea, and when used by professionals it does protect from infection, it can actually give inexperienced users a false sense of security. There isn’t a lot of good evidence (still!) that shows a mask to reliably prevent infection when worn by the public at large. They are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus.

• If you fly, please bring a disinfectant wipe with you to wipe the hard surfaces (tray tables and seat belts, as well as toilet doors) and turn on the air vent above your head and push the vent towards your feet.

• If you have a fever, please stay home for at least twenty-four hours after you no longer have the fever. There is no current way to differentiate between COVID-19 and the flu and testing kits have not been widely disseminated at hospitals.

• Cover your mouth if you cough and then wash your hands afterward, using a paper towel to close the faucet.

There is a chance your unwashed fingers will have a virus on them and if you touch/rub your mouth, nose or eyes, you may introduce the virus and accidentally infect yourself. Practice this: Get others to call you out when you forget. Make it a game.

It appears that Zinc supplementation plays an important role in fighting viruses, and research has shown it also can inhibit replication of Coronaviruses. Therefore it can’t hurt to take Zinc as a supplement during this time (Zinc Picolinate or Gluconate; on Amazon and others).

Research has shown Zinc also can inhibit replication of Coronaviruses

Here are immune boosting vitamins that can’t hurt. These are all Amazon listings, which we don’t usually do, but there’s a lot and we’re short on time:

American Health Ester-C with Citrus Bioflavonoids Capsules
NOW Supplements, Glutathione
NOW Supplements, NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium Glycinate Lysinate
Natrol Vitamin B12 Fast Dissolve Tablets
Doctor’s Best Fully Active B Complex Vegan Capsules
Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3

For the alternative readers, and in the case of there not being enough antiviral medicine to go around, you can pick up some “antiviral” herbs to make tea with:

Elderberry
Echinacea
Astragalus Root 
Licorice Root
Olive Leaf Extract

If you or a loved one becomes sick, follow the practices being described by healthcare officials and the media at that moment.. Call ahead before going to a Doctor, fever clinic or hospital and get advice on what to do..

What to Buy if Stuck in Quarantine

Earthquake kit photo via Global X

Luckily, a lot of Bay Area folks already have our Earthquake preparation game on. It’s a great time to make a list while the transmission is still low, so label up a “Pandemic Stash” box, and begin to slowly fill it with items that won’t go bad and that you won’t touch unless needed. Buy a few of the things each time you shop. Don’t buy things you won’t eat later, don’t hoard, and don’t buy more than you’ll need for a 2-4 week period. We’re not talking about the zombie apocalypse and we very probably won’t see power or water interruptions either. In case there are food shortages, limit the variety in your diet.

What to buy:

Extra prescription medications, asthma relief inhalers (Some of these may be a problem, so talk to your doctor soon)
Over-the-counter anti-fever and pain medications such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can go a long way to making us feel less sick
Feminine hygiene products
Family pack of toilet paper
Vitamins
Alcohol-containing hand rub and soap
Household cleaning agents like bleach, floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, surface cleaning spray, laundry detergent
Tissues, paper towel
Disposable diapers
Cereals, grains, beans, lentils, pasta
Tinned food – fish, vegetables, fruit
Oil, spices and flavours
Dried fruit and nuts
Batteries for anything that needs batteries, power banks
Think about elderly relative’s needs such as medications
Pet food and care, dry and tinned food, litter tray liners, medicines, anti-flea drops
Soft drink or candy/chocolate for treats

What is Coronavirus?

Science bro. Photo via wikimedia commons

COVID-19 is tricky because it has proven to be deadly, but not too deadly. It makes people sick, but not in predictable ways. This virus is quite dangerous because the incubation period is uniquely long, so its easily spreadable whilst causing little to no symptoms at all.

The new coronavirus (known technically as SARS-CoV-2) that’s been spreading around the world can cause a respiratory illness that can damage your lungs irreparably. The disease (known as COVID-19), which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, seems to have a fatality rate of less than 2 percent — significantly lower than most outbreaks that make global news. Unfortunately, the virus has raised alarm not despite that low fatality rate, but because of it.

To date, looking at data from China, most deaths (94%) from COVID-19 have occurred in those over 50 years of age, with more than half (51%) in those aged over 70 years. The age group most at risk for death are those aged over 80 years. So that basically means, if you’re not old or sick already, you’re likely not going to die — although it’s going to be painful, disruptive, and it is our responsibility for the sake of our elders and weaker members of society, to be extra vigilant not to spread this invisible and tricky virus.

Here is a real time map of the current outbreak stats made by John Hopkins University.

A case fatality rate of between 2% to 4% rivals and even exceeds that of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which is estimated to have killed upwards of 50 million people. Even a case fatality rate of 0.7%, means 7 out of every 1,000 infected people would die. It is such a sobering statistic, I think I need a drink. It is seven times the fatality rate for seasonal flu, which is estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 people a year globally.

Trump administration health officials told the public Tuesday to prepare for the “inevitable” spread of the coronavirus within the U.S.

What Makes This Virus Different?

The new coronavirus has an HIV-like mutation that means its ability to bind with human cells could be up to 1,000 times as strong as the Sars virus, according to new research by scientists in China and Europe. The discovery could help to explain not only how the infection has spread but also where it came from and how best to fight it.

Scientists showed that Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) entered the human body by binding with a receptor protein called ACE2 on a cell membrane. And some early studies suggested that the new coronavirus, which shares about 80 per cent of the genetic structure of Sars, might follow a similar path. But the ACE2 protein does not exist in large quantities in healthy people, and this partly helped to limit the scale of the Sars outbreak of 2002-03, in which infected about 8,000 people around the world.

What About California?

The UC Davis Medical Center is treating a patient from Solano County who may be the first person in the country to have contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) from community exposure.

The California Department of Public Health reported Wednesday the individual is a resident of Solano County who had no known exposure to the virus through travel or contact with a known infected individual.

Previously known instances of person-to-person transmission in the United States include one instance in Chicago, Ill., and one in San Benito County. Both cases were after close, prolonged interaction with a family member who returned from Wuhan, China, and had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus. As of Wednesday, including this case, California has had seven travel-related cases, one close contact case and now one community transmission.

Predictably, President Trump lashed out at the media, accusing MSNBC and CNN of overreacting to the coronavirus threat and of intentionally spooking economic markets.

Latest updates

San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) declared a state of emergency for the city on Tuesday amid concerns over the international coronavirus outbreak.

While no coronavirus cases have been confirmed in San Francisco, “the global picture is changing rapidly, and we need to step-up preparedness,” Breed said in a statement.

Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Tuesday that a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. is now inevitable, warning that “it’s not a question of if, but rather a question of when and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

But later Tuesday, White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow offered a significantly rosier outlook, telling CNBC that, “we have contained this, I won’t say airtight, but pretty close to airtight.”

Trump himself has remained similarly optimistic, seemingly claiming during a Tuesday press conference in India that the U.S. was “very close” to developing a coronavirus vaccine. The White House later said the president was referring to the Ebola vaccine, which the FDA approved two months ago.’

In short: Don’t let this virus be an excuse to be racist. Prepare calmly, be extra vigilant with being clean especially around more vulnerable populations, boost your immune system as you can, and we will all get through this.

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Alexandra Liss - Couchsurfer Extraordinaire

Alexandra Liss - Couchsurfer Extraordinaire

Alexandra Liss is a San Francisco native, Entrepreneur Whisperer, Sharing Economy Evangelist. Just Vagenius. Co-author of www.ItsaShareableLife.com, & Videographer for hire www.BrandbarSF.com, Director of www.OneCouchataTime.com.

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