Frankly, there’s so much information circulating about the Coronavirus, it’s hard to know what to share. The past few days I’ve read article after article, highlighted dozens of printed out pages, scribbled numerous notes in the margins, and brainstormed multiple outlines trying to come up with a perfect, concise, just-what’s-needed body of information. And yet, here on day three, I remain stuck in a loop trying to make organized sense of it all. 

In a way, that’s where we are as a country also. Only recently entering the disease-transmission community March 3 (1), we’re still in the panic-disbelief stage. And many of us are reacting in the typical way humans do when they feel threatened: go into “Oh no! The sky is falling” mode, doing panic-driven things like buying up all the toilet paper, cleaning supplies and long-self items for the pantry. (Went to Publix yesterday and according to one of the clerks, those items clear out soon as the store opens.) 

It’s easy for the fear monster to take over. Being able to take care of ourselves is one of our basic human needs. And when times are scary and uncertain, scarfing up all the toilet paper gives an illusion of control. (2) 

Whether it’s hoarding toilet paper or getting caught in a read-highlight-scribble-outline loop, we’re all just trying to make sense of it all. Take a step back. Take a breath. As a country, we’ve been through national crises before. We’ll do it again. (3)

Here are the information tidbits that consistently bubbled up during my research and writing frenzy… 

Stay abreast of current news. 

Experts are learning more about this new pandemic daily. There’s a lot of good info. There’s also a lot of bad info. Check the facts. Choose trust-worthy news sources. Many news services have links to up-to-date articles. (*See links at the bottom of this article.)  

Take care of yourself and your family Responsibly 

Make sure you have food and supplies to get you through this important self-isolation period. (5) Stop hoarding. There is no food shortage. (6) People are working diligently behind the scenes to continue the ongoing delivery of supplies we all need. (7) In fact, many companies are finding ways to ‘give back’ during this crisis. (8) 

Don’t feed the Fear Monster 

Yes, stay informed. But there’s no need to binge-watch the news. It only feeds the fear monster. In my experience, watching 20-30 minutes will give you a feel for the latest events. More than that is just worry-surmising – asking the same “we-don’t-know-the-answer-but-we’re-going-to-talk-about-it-anyway questions over and over. Yes, they want to keep us informed. (And yes, they want to keep us glued to the TV as well. It’s part of their job.) Check-in 1-3 times a day to stay current. Then turn it off. Give your brain a rest.  

And speaking of brain rest, try sitting quietly and meditating for 5 minutes every morning, or a few minutes throughout the day. Breathing deeply and slowly, focusing on your breath will help calm those worry thoughts. It will also help you refocus on the good things you have in your life.  

Be grateful. Gratitude helps to ease the stress and shifts our perception back to what’s important. Sure, the kids and spouse home 24/7 may be taxing everyone’s nerves. Practice deeper understanding, compassion and loving kindness. We’re all experiencing the discomfort of being out of our normal routines. Use this time to come up with new “house rules” and new routines for this temporary “normal.” Get the kids involved in this decision-making (age-appropriately, of course!) This is a great teaching moment.  

Every cloud has a silver lining if you look for it. What will yours be? 

Follow the Rules 

This may fly in the face of our sometimes-desperate need for freedom, personal choice, and creative outlet. But, even if you’re like me and hate to be told what to do, this is one time following the rules may save your life – or the life of someone you love. 

And, face it. These “rules” are really just common sense:  Wash your hands often. Don’t touch your face. Cough into a tissue, then throw it away, (and wash your hands again!) Avoid close contact with sick people. Stay inside – especially if you’re sick. If you must go out, keep a safe distance away. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces daily. Simple lifestyle changes have a history of saving lives. (9)  

Stay abreast of ongoing updates and official guidelines (see links below). We have the “advantage” of having watched other countries handle this crisis and seeing what their people have gone through. The trajectory from their experience predicts things may get worse before they get better. (10) 

The bigger question is – will we learn from the experience of others?  

Will the U.S. follow in the footsteps of Italy or of China? (11) China was first on board with the virus and used aggressive measures to take care of its citizens. Italy, on the other hand, was slow to respond and even had people fleeing the country to avoid quarantine. (12) 

This is where our freedom of choice comes to a fork in the road. This virus spreads through people. Self (or forced) containment and heightened hygiene are two of our best defenses against this pandemic. 

What will you do? 

Will you exercise your right to rebel and not heed the advice of experts who study and understand this kind of stuff? Or will you choose to use your freedom for the greater good?

We are all in this together. And ultimately, each of us is responsible for the health of our nation. Will we move through this crisis with fear and resistance, or will we move forward with loving kindness and compassion, enduring the temporary inconveniencies, and doing our part for not only our self and our loved ones, but also for the greater good of our country and, ultimately, the whole world? 

If there is to be health* in the world, there must be health in the nations.
If there is to be health in the nations, there must be health in the cities.
If there is to be health in the cities, there must be health between neighbors. 
If there is to be health between neighbors, there must be health in the home. 
If there is to be health in the home, there must be health in the heart. 
 Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher, 600 BC 

(My apologies to Mr. Lao Tzu. I replaced his word “peace” here and throughout the poem, with “health” to emphasize the responsibility we all share in this world-wide pandemic.) 

(1) Coronavirus ‘curve’ in US may be at its most dangerous-point
(2) Coronavirus: Why are we so afraid? The psychology of powerlessness.
(3) To survive the coronavirus, the United States must tighten up.
(4) Health Organizations & Up-to-date News Sources / President’s Guidelines for America / Fact vs Fiction
*Trustworthy Information Sources:  

  1. CDC 
  2. WHO  
  3. Up-to-Date News Sources 
  4. The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America: “15 Days to Slow the Spread”  
  5. Fact vs Fiction 
  6. 8 ways to stop the spread of COFID-19 misinformation

(5) Coronavirus Tips and Supplies Guide
(6) Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen: “Plenty of food in the food supply chain.”
(7) Ongoing Deliveries. Working on this final edit, I can’t locate the articles I found a couple days ago. Will update when I find them again. 
(8) 50 Ways Companies Are Giving Back During the Coronavirus Pandemic  
(9) Evolution and History of Personal Hygiene
(10) Things may get worse with coronavirus before they get better, physician says. 
(11) Coronavirus: When will it end? Will the US become Italy, South Korea? 
(12) Coronavirus: Italy Lockdown plan leaked, thousands tried to flee