Avoiding the Coronavirus — Or Really, Any Virus - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Avoiding the Coronavirus — Or Really, Any Virus

To understand how an epidemic, and then a pandemic, can happen, one must understand human nature. People have selfish impulses and crude drives. It’s important to understand that even decent people will do distressingly bad things for reasons even they don’t understand. They will be stupid. They will be careless about or ignorant of how illness spreads. They will be vectors for a virus or bacteria and spread the sickness unintentionally. We know this happens because of how easily the flu spreads now. Commonsense behavior could prevent the spread of colds and influenza, yet the United States had 69,000 people die from the flu in the 2017–18 season alone. (That number has been revised down from 80,000 people.)

Governments are made up of people with diverse motivations and people who often behave illogically. There are stories that Chinese government authorities punished doctors who warned of another SARS-like virus for “spreading rumors.” Still other rumors are rampant that the real number of sick Chinese people is far greater than the nearly 20,000 currently reported. A study in the health journal The Lancet extrapolates around 75,000 infected. No one knows for sure. If either story is true, human error or malevolence has already contributed to the spread of this new disease. (Johns Hopkins is tracking the reported Corona virus numbers here.)

Whatever the reason for the virus’ spread, it has proved itself extremely difficult to contain. This much is known: a person can be asymptomatic and pass the virus to someone before the first symptoms appear. Distressingly, after the virus passes, the person’s viral load is dramatically high, and the recovering person can spread the virus further. Now we know that the virus can live on surfaces like doorknobs. For more on that, read the CDC transcript about testing and transmission here. All coronaviruses constantly mutate (a couple strains of the common cold are coronaviruses), and so any extrapolation is theoretical. Here is a good explainer:

If one assumes that this new coronavirus will spread and that people are stupid about preventing it, what can one do to protect oneself? This is an important question whether the new virus spreads or not. The influenza bugs are here, and so are the incurable common cold plus myriad other sicknesses. These recommendations will be useful for all of the above.

Common Procedures During Cold and Flu Season

The following are general preventative recommendations for any time of the year, but especially mid-September to the end of April.

  1. Wash your hands. Wash them before handling food, after handling food, after going to the restroom, after shaking hands. When you touch a door handle, stall handle, or faucet after washing your hands, you’ve just recontaminated yourself. The absolutely worst situations are when you’re in a bathroom with only air dryers and no paper towels to open the door. There are a couple choices: 1) wait for someone to come into the bathroom or 2) use the edge of your shirt or jacket to grab the handle to exit. Then use antibacterial hand gel after you get out.
  2. Clean your home and office with bleach. Wipe down every surface, every door knob, light-switch plate, phone, keyboard, everything. Office phones are a huge germ carrier. Clean them weekly, at minimum.
  3. Run a humidifier (preferably with ultraviolet light to kill mold). The flu virus, in particular, needs a dry environment to hang in the air. More here.
  4. Fresh air. The air outside is cleaner than the stuffy air in your house or work office. Clean the house and open the windows a bit (even if it’s super cold) and circulate the air.
  5. Supplement with Vitamin C and D. Most Americans are deficient in both. You can up both with a healthy diet, of course. Vitamin C you can get through berries and citrus. Vitamin D–rich foods include fish like salmon and tuna, egg yolks, and cod liver oil. You could also just get into the sun for 20 minutes with a morning walk. Your immune system will thank you.
  6. Stay hydrated. Drink water. More water than you think you need.
  7. Get enough sleep. Your immune system functions better when it’s not stressed. Sleep deprivation, bad nutrition, emotional distress — all these things inhibit one’s immune system.
  8. Do not share towels. Go to Target. For $2 you can buy a pack of a dozen washcloths. Put them in a pretty basket in your bathroom and guest bathroom. Each cloth is for individual use. Have another basket for dirty washcloths. Wash them with bleach. Repeat. I’m convinced this has been the No. 1 way my family has cut down on the spread of germs in our household.
  9. Avoid plane travel. Enclosed environment with recycled air and multiple sick people? It’s a perfect petri dish for disease.
  10. Stock up on the basics. Anyone in hurricane country knows that at that time of year, it’s important to have the cars gassed up and the house stocked with cleaning supplies, food, water, medicine, etc. It’s just sensible to have a couple weeks’ worth of dry goods and cleaning supplies around. Should a mass quarantine happen like in China, you don’t want to be without the necessities.
  11. Bonus: Put the lid down. For all that’s good and holy, put the lid down before you flush. It is unnerving how many people leave the lid open and spew all the toilet germs (bacteria and viruses fly 15 feet and attach to every surface) into the air when they flush. It’s disgusting. Watch this video to fully comprehend:

What to Do When Someone Shows Signs of Sickness

  1. Quarantine. Stay home. Don’t get on a plane. Don’t go to work. Don’t make out with your girlfriend. If you’re in a house with other people, ideally, have one bathroom to yourself and don’t let anyone use it. Keep your germs to yourself.
  2. Sleep. Rest lets the immune system do its job.
  3. Hydrate. Drink water, sugar-free electrolyte water, etc.
  4. Stop eating sugar. Sugar feeds bacteria and viruses.
  5. Increase your Vitamin C and Vitamin D doses.
  6. Get tested for what you have. Strep can look like the flu (fever, aches, coughing) but can be cured with an antibiotic. If caught early enough, an antiviral can prevent the full expression of the flu. If it’s a cold, you’re out of luck. But at least with a quick swab you know.
  7. Don’t go to church, work, school, a concert, the store, anywhere. Amazon and food delivery is your friend. There is no reason to go out in public. Have a family member pick up your prescription. It is amazing how many people go to church sick. It’s how my babies got chicken pox. Friends at church knew that their own children had been exposed and came to church with them. Smart people who made a stupid decision.
  8. Watch something funny. Laughter boosts the immune system. Might as well have fun while on the couch!

You may wonder why you should quarantine if you have a cold. Well, because many viruses cause a cold and some are deadly to young children and the immune compromised. RSV is a common enough virus that shows up as a mild cold in healthy adults but can causes acute respiratory distress syndrome in babies and small children and compromise their immune systems.

A special note about the flu: Flu symptom duration varies. From the day before the first symptom through the entire duration of the illness, the person is contagious. From the first day of the last symptom (when a person finally feels well) the person sheds the virus for three more weeks. Doctors rarely talk about this unless they work in a transplant unit or in infectious disease. Lesson: Even after someone feels better, strict hygiene should be enforced.

At this writing, the Chinese stock market is sliding. Commodities are dropping. Civil order in some places is tenuous. Wuhan, the epicenter of the new virus, is running short of supplies, and hospitals are overwhelmed. People are dying at home, alone. Civilization is a thin veneer layered on top of irrational animals who act in mystifying ways.

It’s better to assume that fear or hubris will lead to stupid actions that have harmful consequences. Plan for it. Whether the coronavirus afflicting the Chinese people will stay relatively contained is not yet known. It doesn’t have to be known, though. Already the flu claims many more American lives than necessary.

Be smart. Be strict with hygiene. Be prepared.

Melissa Mackenzie
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Melissa Mackenzie is Publisher of The American Spectator. Melissa commentates for the BBC and has appeared on Fox. Her work has been featured at The Guardian, PJ Media, and was a front page contributor to RedState. Melissa commutes from Houston, Texas to Alexandria, VA. She lives in Houston with her two sons, one daughter, and two diva rescue cats. You can follow Ms. Mackenzie on Twitter: @MelissaTweets.
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