D Kevin McNeirHealth

Coronavirus Update: Strategies to Survive, Sustain and Succeed

As Americans try to cope with the shutdown of classrooms and college campuses, restaurants in which they can no longer congregate or sporting events and concerts that have been put on indefinite hold, citizens of all ages find themselves seeking new ways to enjoy life and entertain themselves.

And given the creative spirit that exists within us all, we thought we’d try to identify a few suggestions for coping with the directive of self-isolation in a society that has long sought ways to be in community.

What follows certainly cannot begin to be considered an exhaustive list. We solicit your ideas and strategies as well and hope to include them in our upcoming editions. Are you celebrating a graduation or an anniversary soon? Did you read a book for a grandchild on Zoom or Skype because, for now, you can no longer have them sit next to your or on your lap? Want to share cooking tips, sing an original song or offer a few words of encouragement?

Feel free to share your words, your pictures, your videos, and more with The Washington Informer at mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com.

To Wear or Not to Wear a Mask? That IS the Question

The debate rages on from Paris to Prince George’s County. Should you or shouldn’t you wear a face mask during the coronavirus pandemic? That’s what White House and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials are discussing, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

President Trump suggested wearing a scarf, a bandana or some other covering when you leave home to cover your mouth and nose during Monday’s White House briefing. Meanwhile, WHO stands by recommendation to not wear masks if you are not sick or not caring for someone who is sick.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on Tuesday said if you’re going to wear a face covering, do not touch your face, save the medical face masks for health officials and continue to correctly practice social distancing. The recommendation he provided has changed, he said, as more information about the coronavirus becomes available.

While the World Health Organization on Monday stood by its recommendation only to wear a mask if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick, a growing number of officials and health experts argue that people should wear masks to help prevent spread of the virus.

“We are not going to be wearing masks forever, but it could be for a short period of time after we get back into gear. I could see something like that happening for a period of time,” President Trump said during Monday’s White House briefing.

The idea of recommending broad use of masks in the U.S. is under “very active discussion” at the White House, Fauci said. “The thing that has inhibited that a bit is to make sure we don’t take away the supply of masks from the health care workers who need them. But when we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks. We’re not there yet, but I think we’re close to coming to some determination. Because if, in fact, a person who may or may not be infected wants to prevent infecting somebody else, the best way to do that is with a mask. Perhaps that’s the way to go.”

Family Pets Unlikely to Spread COVID-19

New methods of caring for our pets now include dropping off your kitten or grumpy, droopy-eared mutt but for those like me who consider my “Baby Girl” to be a member of the family, the coronavirus pandemic has led to questions about whether my pet can contract the virus.

Here are some answers to many questions posed across the nation from the College of Veterinarian Medicine at the University of Chicago – Urbana Champaign. (Updated March 31).

Can dogs get the new coronavirus (COVID-19)?

At this time, experts believe it is very unlikely. The World Health Organization currently advises that there is no evidence to suggest that dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus. The OIE states there is no evidence that dogs play a role in the spread of this disease or that they become sick. The CDC also seconds that opinion, stating that, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.”

Although pets cannot become sick from COVID-19, could they serve as a conduit of infection between people?

Yes. It is possible that a person with COVID-19 could sneeze or otherwise contaminate their pet, and then another individual could touch that animal and contract the disease. Veterinary experts believe the risk for transmission would be low. COVID-19 survives longer on hard, inanimate surfaces (e.g., glass, metal) than on soft surfaces (e.g., fur, cardboard). Nevertheless, animals living with sick individuals should be kept away from other people and animals (quarantined at home), just as people who live with sick individuals must avoid contact with others.

If I am diagnosed with COVID-19, how do I protect my pet?

Since your pet is at minimal risk of COVID-19 infection there are no specific steps needed to protect them from infection. However, pets can have the virus ON THEM if they are in an environment with a large quantity of the virus and could serve to be a source of the virus for other people, including family members. Therefore, to protect other people and yourself, the CDC recommends that you restrict contact with pets if you are sick with COVID-19, just as you would restrict your contact with other people. Avoid snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must interact with your pet, wash your hands before and after, and wear a face mask.

How to Talk to Your Children about Coronavirus

Are you having problems curbing your children’s anxiety or fears about the coronavirus? Are they beginning to ask questions that you are unsure how to best answer? Here’s an insightful article that appeared recently on www.pbs.org written by Deborah Farmer Kris. We believe the journalist said it better than we ever could:

Earlier this week, I overheard my kids engaged in a round of “I heard” and “Did you know?” while they were getting ready for bed.

“I heard that Margaret’s dad has it,” said my 6-year-old.

“Did you know that it’s the worst sickness ever?” added my 8-year-old.

Neither statement is accurate, but they were revealing: I had thought my initial conversations with my kids about COVID-19 had been good enough. But with adults, kids at school and the news all hyper-focused on this coronavirus outbreak, my reassuring voice needed to be a little louder.

A favorite Mister Rogers’ quote ran through my mind: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.”

First, I shared age-appropriate facts and corrected misinformation. Because my kids are young, I kept it simple. “You know what it’s like to have a cold or the flu — how sometimes you get a cough or have a fever? This is kind of like that. Most people who catch this sickness stay home, rest and get all better. And we have wonderful doctors and nurses who can help people when they need it.”

Second, I reassured them that they are safe, which is the most important message my kids can hear from me. I know that they take their emotional cues from my tone. “You don’t need to worry. Right now, lots of amazing grown-ups are working hard to keep people healthy. Luckily, we already know a lot about how to keep healthy!”

Third, I emphasized simple things our family can do to be “germ busters” — for all types of germs that are out there! As Harvard’s Dr. Richard Weissbourd  HYPERLINK “https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/expanding-your-childs-circle-of-concern” once shared with me, kids and adults alike are “more distressed when we feel helpless and passive, and more comfortable when we are taking action.” The hygiene routines that slow the spread of the COVID-19 are the same habits that help keep us healthy all year round.

Here are four ways we can help young kids build germ-busting habits.

Wash Your Hands

Make it a family routine before every meal and snack to wash hands. If you do it together, you can model for them how to use soap, rub your hands together and rinse. For a timer, try slowly singing the ABCs together while you scrub. In Curious George, the Man with the Yellow Hat has a cold. He  HYPERLINK “https://pbskids.org/video/curious-george/2339263578” teaches George how germs can move from person to person and that’s important to wash your hands and avoid sharing utensils.  HYPERLINK “https://pbskids.org/video/daniel-tigers-neighborhood/2365375359” Good hand washers, like Daniel Tiger, are germ busters!

Catch that Cough

When kids cough or sneeze, they tend to do it right into their hands — and then they use those hands to touch everything in sight! Instead,  HYPERLINK “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW1yodZJpG8” we can cough and sneeze into our elbow. Make it a game with kids. Can they catch the cough in their elbow? In the beginning, cheer when they do: “You caught it! That’s what germ busters do!” If they accidentally “catch it in their hands,” they can simply wash their hands with soap and water and start the game again.

‘Rest is Best’

Daniel Tiger reminds us that “When you’re sick, rest is best!” This is a good episode to show kids and a great song to sing when they are feeling under the weather. Tell them: When we are sick, we can stay home and rest our bodies; we can be germ busters by not spreading germs or going to school sick. And as parents, we can keep ourselves and our kids home if we have a fever or other symptoms.

Practice Healthy Habits

Remind kids that sleep, exercise and eating healthy foods are good, everyday ways to strengthen our bodies. We will all get sick sometimes! They have probably already had at least one cold this season. But we can be responsible germ busters when we practice handwashing, cough-catching, resting and basic healthy living.

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D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Award-winning journalist and 21-year Black Press veteran, book editor, voice-over specialist and college instructor (Philosophy, Religion, Journalism). Before joining us, he led the Miami Times to recognition as NNPA Publication of the Year.

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