This hit home for me today. My best friend got the call to put her entire family in quarantine after direct contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
I’m sure you’ve heard all about this by now, so I thought it would be a good idea for us to have an open discussion about it.
This is not a time for fear or panic, but let’s talk FACTS and all play it smart – and do our part.
You probably know by now what a research geek I am.
I’ll share with you what I know (and what I don’t know), and the advice I’m giving my closest friends and family right now…
Day 9 of Corona Virus Quarantine
Prior to initiating voluntary quarantine last week I was being as cautious as possible: washing my hands often, taking stairs instead of elevators, using tissues or the tail of my sweater to touch things (door handles, etc).
You may recall that I spent the first couple of months of this year taking care of my parents. That included a lot of time in hospitals, doctor offices and pharmacies, interacting with home health workers and others in and out too, among other things.
I have been taking extra precautions anyway over the last year after contracting a virus in February 2019 on a trip home from Long Beach that attacked my microbiome and caused me gut health issues that I am still trying to rebalance.
Add in news of a fast-spreading killer virus which we knew very little about at the time, and I was more aware of both self protection and of spreading my own germs around.
What Prompted My Voluntary Quarantine
No, I have not been exposed to Covid-19 (that I know of), and I do not have any symptoms – yet. More on that in a second…
Prior to the more extreme measures of “sheltering” or “social distancing” we’re seeing now, we were mainly told to wash our hands frequently and that it was thought to spread only through direct contact with a sick person. And even those messages weren’t really mainstream yet.
The turning point for me was my last visit to the Murfreesboro Medical Clinic in middle Tennessee to take my stepmother in for a follow-up appointment after her recent bypass surgery. This facility also has a walk-in clinic, by the way. (info)
At that appointment on March 12th (just over a week ago), well aware of the rapid spread of Covid-19 and devastating news coming out of Italy, not to mention influenza still being “high risk” in our area, I was stunned to walk in and see no masks on the staff, not even gloves – no precautions of any kind.
In fact, it was the exact opposite.
When the nurse took us back to the room she opened the door with bare hands, touching the handle then holding the door open with her full palm on the door for us.
(Who else had touched that door? Other patients? Other staff working with other patients?)
She closed the door, touching the other handle, then picked up an ink pen for the paperwork – then the blood pressure cuff, etc.
Never once did she wash her hands or use the hand sanitizer pump on the wall. She was not wearing gloves. She did her examination with those same bare hands even (taking vitals, etc).
We were in a very small room, and I maintained my composure, but I was feeling more uncomfortable by the second. Not just for me, not just for us, but maybe even… the fact that Terri tested positive for MRSA prior to her surgery a few weeks before. They seemed to take a lot of extra precautions for that in ICU.
Next, the doctor enters the room, also not wearing even gloves (also touching both the door and then handles). He does not use hand sanitizer or wash his hands, and proceeds to remove the stay strips from her surgical incision – with his same bare hands.
Is that even normal protocol?! (I think not…)
I normally take the stairs but Terri couldn’t, so we stepped in the elevator from the 3rd floor and an MMC staff (nurse, office worker? I’m not sure) touched the elevator button with her bare hands to take us to the main floor.
I just… I didn’t know what to say. I mean, I don’t even touch elevator buttons on any normal day, and haven’t for as long as I can remember.
Keep in mind this is a building with a pediatric unit, a walk-in clinic for sick people, and well: you know, a healthcare facility!
Did I mention it’s flu season and it was (and still is) at “high risk” level here?!
On what felt like a very long ride down three short floors I (very) casually said to the lady, “I notice no one here is taking extra precautiouns with the flu season or with news of the virus, is it not a concern?”
Her response: “Oh no, all that is blown way out of proportion.”
I politely replied “Ah, that’s good to know.” with a bit of a smile and proceeded to GTH out of there as quickly (and safely) as possible.
I had my own reasons for not discussing any of my thoughts or concerns with Terri (the patient, my “stepmom”) at the time, and simply watched with interest and confusion – completely MORTIFIED.
I was most perplexed how the staff in a medical facility could be so flippant or oblivious or downright negligent… when they’re Italian counterparts were sounding the warning alarms LOUD AND CLEAR.
It made me both very sad… and extremely concerned.
I found myself wondering what nurses in Italy would have said, or how they would have felt, if they had witnessed what I just had.
I can only imagine healthcare workers in Italy would be some combination of devastated and enraged, knowing in hindsight what they do now.
Washing Your Hands Is Not Enough
Prior to going in to the office for this appointment, when I first arrived at Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, I went into the ladies room to wash my hands.
The “wash your hands” campaign was well under way here by then. But I’ve always been a hand washer. It’s something we were taught as children, remember? And of course something that became second nature through parenting.
Anyway, a lady and her granddaughter entered the restroom a few minutes behind me. They both touched the door coming in, pushing it open with bare hands after turning the knob too. They went directly to a stall, touching both the handle and the door on both sides (both of them).
I just finished washing my hands when they came out, or maybe drying them and finding my chapstick, but I was happy to see she walked her granddaughter over to the sink to wash her hands.
Out of curiosity, I watched. I didn’t gawk or anything. 🙂 I just watched through the mirror while I finished what I was doing.
Here’s what happened:
They both touched the faucet handle with bare hands to turn on the water. Remember: the same bare hands that touched the door handle, the door, the stall door, and who knows what else IN the stall.
She instructed the girl on tops, bottoms, between fingers (it was a pretty good attempt!). Then the young girl reached for the faucet and used her clean hands to turn the water off – touching the faucet she just touched with dirty hands.
(The grandmother never washed HER hands though.)
They both grabbed the door handle with bare hands to leave, and “palmed” the outside of the door (again) to hold it open as they were walking out.
Then of course… grandmother (who didn’t wash) grabs girls hand and walks off.
Honestly: mind blown.
Is it REALLY that complicated to keep your hands clean, and not touch everything in sight?!
Personally, if there isn’t an automated water or soap dispenser, and I don’t have a paper napkin or paper towel to use (I keep one in my bag usually), I will AT LEAST not use my HANDS to touch ANY surface in a public restroom. EVER.
Am I alone on that??
I imagine they touched the elevator button next.
Or who knows how many doors and door handles depending on where they went next.
The moral of that story: touch NOTHING out there!
This wasn’t about me being judgmental.
It was about me experiencing a heightened sense of awareness of how easily germs (and viruses) could spread…
And feeling ZERO CONFIDENCE in this whole “just wash your hands a lot” campaign.
Besides, as I said above, washing your hands alone is not enough.
We now know that the Corona Virus / Covid-19 can live on various surfaces for different amounts of time, and that it is indeed airborne (there were mixed messages on that earlier on).
They have also discovered that it is being spread by asymptomatic people at a rapid rate, people who seem and feel perfectly fine for as long as 2-3 weeks before they show ANY symptoms at all.
This makes it quite scary, with people feeling fine and continuing to go to work or go to the store, or not rushing too much to do Social Distancing – or quarantine themselves.
Because, you know, if you don’t feel it then you don’t have it, right? (Wrong!)
Err On The Side Of Caution
Everything I witnessed that day told me: we’re in trouble.
It was a deep gut feeling I could not shake.
While I wasn’t sick and didn’t have any symptoms, I felt very uncomfortable with the amount of “contact” going on out in the world, and VERY aware of how many healthcare facilities and offices I’d been in during the initial “stealth transmission” phase.
It can take up to 14 days before you develop ANY symptoms after exposure, or perhaps you only have mild symptoms and dismiss it as seasonal allergies given the time of year.
During which time you are actively spreading this potentially deadly virus to anyone and everyone you (or your hands) come in contact with as you go about your daily life.
And by the way, it’s not JUST affecting the older demographic. Not in America at least. So far the big surprise is that almost HALF of the people hospitalized for the Corona Virus in the United States so far… are 20-55 years old.
I did not feel afraid of the virus.
Being young and healthy I figure that most likely it would be like having a terrible flu for me personally, or best case just mild symptoms and quick recovery. I wasn’t terribly worried about that part when I made the decision to quarantine.
More than anything, I felt concerned about the likelihood of being exposed, given I was in and out of high-risk places during the time period that it was starting to spread by Community Transmission here in the United States. And of course our lack of testing, meaning: lack of any real data.
I didn’t want to possibly spread it to anyone else.
Just watching the amount of bare hand contact between the restroom and the exam room at the medical center that day made me realize that it would be entirely too easy to put WAY too many people at risk – even if you THINK you’re being careful.
Especially if you breathe while you’re out and about. 😉
Or sneeze… which could just hit you out of nowhere of course, and is probably dust or allergies or – your first real symptom while you’re standing in a crowded grocery store packed with people trying to stock up on supplies.
I felt like going (and staying) home was the socially responsible thing to do.
That almost felt like a drastic measure over a week ago, except that same day all major sporting events were canceled and Walt Disney closed all their parks.
The more I researched the outbreak, the more I felt sure it was the RIGHT thing to do. And of course much more information has been shared over the last week since then – making me VERY glad I’m isolated in my own home (alone).
Covid-19 is spreading fast and furious, and it IS in your back yard.
I mentioned my best friend is also under quarantine now, but not voluntary like myself. She has a large combined family in her home, and one of her stepson’s went to visit his mother in the hospital.
His mother is in the hospital with pneumonia.
The fact that ANY hospital would allow visitations our outside visitors (anyone other than staff & patients) right now is beyond my comprehension.
But the fact that she had pneumonia should have meant a firm NO and immediate quarantine – given the current state of unknowns.
Shortly after he returned home from the hospital, where my friend (responsibly) had him undress and put his clothes in the washing machine and go shower… she got the call from the hospital that the mother he visited tested positive for Covid-19.
What little I do know is that it is NOT like a pregnancy test. The results take a little time. So they had to have known, or at least suspected and already tested her and were simply awaiting results.
Yet they let a young boy into the room without protective gear.
Obviously not every hospital or medical center is as negligent as the two examples I’ve shared with you here… but does this not concern you – while we’re watching a global pandemic unfold?!
It does me.
In my opinion it’s criminally negligent – plain and simple.
There seems to be no hope of containment here in the United States with college students partying on Spring Break and ignoring the pandemic, and certain people / facilities in our healthcare system taking ZERO precautions.
Not to mention people clearly incapable of properly washing their hands, and then keeping them clean.
By the time everyone is “forced” to stay home (I’m not sure how well that’s going to work here in the U.S. given people aren’t respecting the severity of the situation so far, we’ll see)… the “silent spread” will have already taken a deep hold.
I don’t say that to frighten you. The virus itself will be mild for most healthy people. However, it is a DIRE situation, and very serious, and there are some things you should seriously consider – if you haven’t already.
Including preparations for things you may not have considered yet, which I’ll discuss in more detail a little further below.
Basically, a 38 year old man tested positive for Covid-19 in mid February. He felt sick and went to the doctor on February14th and was treated for the flu and sent home.
Two days later (Feb 16) his condition was getting worse so he went to the hospital reporting respiratory problems.
No precautions were taken at that time because there was no suspicion of Covid-19 (yet), so the virus spread to other patients and healthcare workers while he was at the hospital.
During discussions in the following days, his wife mentioned he’d met a friend that recently returned from China (that later tested negative) but they then tested and discovered this man and his wife were positive for Covid-19.
They did extensive screenings and checks on everyone that possibly in contact with either of them. They traced it back to a connection on January 19th. The infected man had no symptoms, he was asymptomatic for weeks, and lead an active social life during those weeks – before moving on to also spread the virus at the hospital.
FROM JANUARY 19TH TO FEBRUARY 14TH HE WAS LIVING LIFE AS NORMAL WITH AN ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE (AND NO SYMPTOMS)
That same “quiet period” is what we are in now here in the states.
Any one of us may be responsible for the next cluster of deaths here – simply by going about normal daily life.
In the last 23 hours alone 2,288 more people have died from the Corona Virus around the world.
Those numbers will be outdated (and much higher) by the time you are reading this.
There is much speculation (and argument) regarding the mortality rate of the Corona Virus, but let’s all keep in mind there are still almost 176,000 people sick with this virus – and we don’t know yet if they’re going to recover.
And of course that does not include the number of people who haven’t been tested yet, and those (how many?) that slid under the radar as influenza (flu) related deaths before they began testing or tracking cases/deaths here.
The numbers were not disclosed, but the CDC stated in a hearing that a number of those tests after deaths involving pneumonia did indeed test positive for Covid-19.
Another point of interest is that the Corona Virus is affecting a larger age range in the United States compared to other countries.
They are currently saying 40% of Covid-19 hospitalizations are ages 20-54 in the U.S. so far. That’s quite different than the older demographic in other countries.
Why, you ask?
I’m not a doctor OR a scientist, but this is my best guess:
The U.S. consistently ranks lowest on most health points compared to other countries, issues that rank a person higher risk for complications from this particular virus.
Examples: U.S. has the highest obesity rate, highest rate of diabetes, higher numbers of people with heart disease & lung disease (at younger ages), etc.
It hasn’t been released yet whether all or most of those in the 20-54 age range that were or are hospitalized had pre-existing conditions or common health issues.
There is still a lot to learn as this unfolds…
The United States definitely faces it’s own challenges with this pandemic, but has at least had a head start in preparing for it. Although…
I’ll just let that one sit.
Not everyone can stay home or quarantine.
Which is why those of us that can… MUST – for their sake as much as ours.
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Consider one man in Italy, no symptoms, out living his normal life for almost a month… before he “felt sick and went to the doctor.”
He had no idea. They had no idea. Who could have known?
That’s exactly where we are in America right now.
(meaning: many with no symptoms, many oblivious, many not heeding the warnings to stay in & not interact, etc)
A sobering thought, indeed.
This is the reason I chose to quarantine myself given all my hospital/clinic exposure in January and February. It was initially for the recommended 14 days, but I’m now planning for at least 30, then I’ll reevaluate the situation at that time.
We are past the point of containment, and of the (MANY) so far untested… we have NO idea how many of us are exposed and/or infected (yet).
But we CAN help slow down the spread by staying home and waiting this out, and giving our trained professionals an opportunity to do their absolute best work out there.
We just have to sit tight and stay away from each other, and let it stop jumping from one person to another!
It reminds me of head lice, when I think about how AWFUL that was when my children were younger. ONE kid at school is all it takes to shut a whole school down and infest hundreds (or thousands) of homes.
But at least we already have ways to get rid of that one.
(mayonaisse & a shower cap works GREAT, btw)
We are all in this together…
I’m looking into the best ways I can help out now and support our community long term through all of this. I have been busy all week coordinating giveaways and negotiating deeper discounts, to help get the products you need out to you – while we still have a supply chain, and delivery. (eek!)
I’m also compiling a list of what’s available to get safely delivered to your home (and how to properly handle those packages when they arrive), including meat and produce and groceries.
Even if you’re NOT concerned about the Corona Virus…
There are two schools of thought.
Some believe people are overreacting and that it’s not that big of a deal.
There are a variety of reasons for the divide, including too much information – and not enough information (or data).
Italy keeps sending us warning messages, China shipped over half a million testing kits and a huge number of face masks to assist us, Walt Disney shut down ALL of their parks over a week ago, all major sports are canceled.
Do you have ANY idea the amount of revenue from merchandise at a single Nascar race?! Restaurant’s 2020 projected sales were $899 billion collectively (WERE) – in the United States alone, and they’re closing down in droves.
Stadiums and universities are being converted into makeshift hospitals as we speak.
All of this would be “extreme” as an overreaction OR as a simple precaution.
Keep in mind the Walt Disney theme parks and major sports all announced their closing and cancellations over a week ago – of their own accord, prior to any recommendation or requirement.
That’s a big red flag… Wouldn’t you agree?
Many of us here in the United States are in a surreal state of “sit and wait”. Some people are staying home voluntarily and willingly, some places like California this week are on a 30-day “stay at home order” – and then some people are out getting trashed on Spring Break or otherwise ignoring the ban of public gatherings.
Regardless of your stance, A LOT of things are happening right now that will affect EVERYONE – socially, physically, economically, you name it.
Our food supply chain has taken a HIT in the last few weeks trying to keep up with the high demand. As has Amazon, announcing a plan to hire 100,000 more people in the U.S. to keep up with the demand.
Unfortunately, employees are working closely together and they are growing increasingly anxious about that. Just this week Amazon temporarily closed one of their facilities after a worker there tested positive for Covid-19.
All of the things we depend on most right now: food production & delivery, grocery stores, warehouse/delivery and healthcare are at higher risk simply because they are in such high demand.
What does this mean for YOU?
That depends on where you live and what the current situation is, and your unique circumstances.
I don’t see anything wrong with taking every precaution, especially given the facts in front of us. And honestly, if I watched television or read news and had seen this earlier myself, I would have been on the “staying home movement” over a month ago – instead of over a week ago.
I certainly wouldn’t have been hanging out in hospitals and such like I was!
Staying home, or at least respecting Social Distancing, is a small act of kindness for those that need (or will need) healthcare most – and those that work in healthcare.
Not to mention the countless other people working around the clock keeping the wheels turning on supply chains…
Together we can make a difference and help others by staying home & staying healthy.
We cannot stop this virus (right now).
What we can do is slow down the spread to a manageable speed, and give our people the chance to do their best work to find a solution.
* If you have a health emergency or get sick, call 911 or call the doctor/clinic/hospital and ask what you should do.
* Cancel all non critical appointments and reschedule those at a later date. Or find out if they are temporarily offering phone/video consultations (many are).
* If you have prescriptions that will be due in the next two months, or if your prescription refill requires an in-office visit, call your doctor NOW to find out what the protocol is.
(My doctor is NOT seeing patients for at least the next 60 days and taking care of those things NOW – so they can stay well and focus on the upcoming surge in needs.)
* Limit contact with people (and keep a 10 foot distance in public), wash your hands often, don’t touch anything you don’t have to touch, and don’t go anywhere you don’t HAVE to be.
To state the obvious I am not a doctor or giving medical advice, just suggestions. Follow the news, take precautions, use common sense, and follow the guidelines and orders issued in your area.
KetoFam PSA: Covid-19 Preparation
Many people who are exposed to the Corona Virus have milder symptoms, and most can recover at home. This is ideal so as to free up the healthcare system for those that become critically ill.
Make sure you have everything on hand NOW that you would want if you got a nasty winter flu, and enough for every member of your household.
I had a nasty flu a year ago February, so I purchased exactly what I used to get throughthat last year. Things like cold medicine, sugar free cough syrup & lozenges, fever & pain reliever.
Consider the statistics that this virus may last longer than your typical flu, and the number of people in your home, and have what you think you would need on hand – just in case you need to recover at home.
Those items may be hard to get, or even impossible to get, by the time you need them – so order them NOW.
What can I do to help?
I’m working on negotiating bigger discounts for you if you need low carb, diabetic friendly or keto foods delivered. I am also coordinating a series of giveaways – so we can get as many packages out to as many people as possible.
Right now your two best options for SAFE delivery of things you need such as groceries and househould items are InstaCart and Amazon.
I am using both myself and will share a detailed post with you on that as well.
I just started using InstaCart and they gave me a $10 Off Refer-A-Friend Link when I placed my first order. I believe that gives you free delivery and $10 off your first order. That’s what I got when a friend told ME about it.
I actually found Amazon to be cheaper than my local grocery store for staples I buy often. Things I ordered there and got delivered quick include:
It IS ideal to use gloves to unbox / unbag things outdoors, dispose of the gloves and packaging in an outdoor bin, wash your hands, disinfect the products you unboxed / unbagged, then put them away.
If they are not perishable, I simply leave my packages sitting for 4-6 hours (but not on my front porch, because that may invite theft in uncertain times like this).
The virus can live on different surfaces for different amounts of time. The last report I read of their testing stated cardboard: 1 hour, plastic: 3 hours.
Again, I’m all for taking every precaution. A quick peak in the history books tells a lot of stories of pandemics, epidemics and such.
While it feels like we’re living inside some disturbing apocalyptic movie at the moment (or may soon)… people have been through worse, with way less resources than we have now.
There are many things to be grateful for right now. I find practicing gratitude is helping me get through the days of feeling anxious and uncertain.
I also find a sense of connection helps A LOT and I am so grateful for all of you, and for our amazing community as a whole.
Since I’ll be home for awhile, I think it would be fun to do some casual live video chats!
Stay tuned for dates/times, I’ll send you an email with a link to join in live or watch later if you are up for a little socializing and interaction while we “stand by.” 🙂
I’ll be bringing you creative ideas for things to do during this time, to make it easier. A lot of us are or will be feeling anxious, may be or may get separated from friends & family, etc.
I thought I’d find us all some FUN home workouts to do together too. 🙂
I’ve also been working from home for more than 23 years now – so I can help with that, for those of you being transitioned to a home office temporarily.
I’ll be back with a GREAT recipe I tried this week that turned out super delicious.
Because you know: I’m home now, so I’m cooking!
I also have a huge list of grocery ideas for you, because: well, being home & cooking required real groceries. 🙂
I have more really good deals & discounts for you too, I’m working hard on those – and on the giveaways. I want to make sure you have access to the things you need, with the savings you need right now too.
How else can I help?
If you want to talk about this, leave a comment.
If you have questions – I’m no expert, but let’s discuss it! I’m doing my best to stay on top of things and double check “facts” to get a good handle on what’s going on (now) and what the various scenarios could possibly be going forward.
I’m happy to provide a judgment free sounding board and Q&A hub for us to all try to understand this together – and get through this together.
Social distancing is the responsible thing to do until we have more facts (and testing). Voluntary isolation too, if you’re in a position to do so. I made that choice because of the places I’ve been over the last couple of months, and I felt a personal responsibility to go home and stay home and wait out the incubation period.
I’m young & healthy so I’m not afraid of the virus itself. I stocked up on “survive the flu” stuff as I mentioned. I’m staying home so as NOT to participate in the potential spread.
But at this point, the more I learn, the more I want to avoid it – if it’s not too late.
For every high risk person, and for everyone having to risk their own health to carry us through this… staying home IS playing our part.
Talk to me…
How are you feeling, and how are you doing?
I would love to hear what’s going on in your life, and where you are on all of this. To be honest it had my mind in a total spin for a few days on end. But I’m ready to get back to work, and see where I can be of best service.
I find that helps when I feel anxious or weird or restless (er, often in this weirdo situation lol!)… to turn my attention to what I can do for someone else.
Check in on a friend, get in an online group you like and answer questions (or just be a good listener), send gift cards or care packages via Amazon to people you’re separated from, get on a video call with a friend, etc.
I look forward to hearing from you. I’m sure you’ll have great things to share with each other too! And we can talk “live” this weekend and this coming week too – so stay tuned for the links to those video calls.