COVID’s Clear Confusion
There are 24 hours in a day, and a single news cycle runs through all 24 of them non-stop. Not hard to guess what they’re talking about these days. COVID-19 has literally dominated the airwaves; there have been thousands of stories covering every conceivable aspect of that virus: Who’s got it? What’s anybody doing about it? When will it be gone? Where’s a test for it? How’d it start? Why does it seem like this is ALL we’re hearing about? We’ve got information overload—and a lot of that information contradicts itself so badly it’s led to reactions ranging from panic to complacency.
One niche group that is particularly hard-hit is that of the faithful caregivers. These folks are not only concerned for themselves but are also carrying a burden for their aging loved ones. Early reports suggested our senior citizens could be at the greatest risk, so caregivers went into overdrive to protect them. People who have loved ones in long-term care have experienced difficulty because those communities have been on lockdown since mid-spring; some caregivers haven’t been able to have any physical contact with their loved ones in months; that means no hugs, no loving pats on the hands–nothing.
In the ever-changing world of COVID-19, we’ve all been told to socially distance and to wear masks. But then we hear that the masks are no help at all, and health officials are giving soundbites lamenting the lack of social distancing—an indication that some folks are not taking it seriously. We’ve been told to use hand sanitizers, but aren’t these the same sanitizers whose efficacy was in question before the pandemic hit? As the virus was getting underway in the US, the talk was that its graphic curve would flatten and peter out by summer; then as summer came and the number of cases surged, we were told this thing’s here indefinitely.
So, what’s real and what’s urban myth? Let’s slow down a minute and see if we can bring clarity to what we already know.
- We know hand washing is a good thing (Florence Nightingale taught us what a life-saver that is. http://www.leahstanley.com/mom-knew-all-along/)
- We know social distancing is helpful to reduce the spread of germs (think of the pre-COVID days when someone was coughing or sneezing; you’d physically back away from them. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html)
- We know that isopropyl alcohol is good for killing germs, so it stands to reason that an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will offer at least some help (although surgeons and parents visiting babies in the NICU are still made to do a surgical-type scrub with good old-fashioned soap and water. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/qa-consumers-hand-sanitizers-and-covid-19)
- We know that medical professionals have been wearing masks to minimize the spread of their own germs for the last hundred years or so; therefore, we can conclude that wearing the mask may help us protect others (although a fair number of people seem to agree that no one really enjoys wearing them—the fashion statement they make notwithstanding https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2020/07/09/texans-face-masks-fashion-statement-coronavirus-pandemic/https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2020/07/09/texans-face-masks-fashion-statement-coronavirus-pandemic/ )
Another important fact we can’t ignore is that many of our seniors are suffering from the isolation caused by their long-term care communities being on prolonged lockdown. Residents and caregivers alike are experiencing an unprecedented mental anguish due to the separation, and it appears there’s no end in sight; therefore, I am urging caregivers to talk with their medical social workers and other care community leadership to see if some safe arrangement can be worked out. Let’s not lose sight of the goal: to ensure safety and facilitate health and wellness—both physical and mental.