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Looking up from Covid-19 Part 2 of 2

Part 2- Finding Supplies and Coping

The Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic is changing our lives at this time, whether we want it to or not.  Social distancing, frequent sanitizing of door knobs, supply shortages, and masks are becoming all too familiar.  In the first part of this story, we looked at ways to keep busy with our family while our social and work lives are temporarily shut down.  Now lets take a look at keeping informed and staying supplied, civil, and healthy.

The Hurricane Pantry, Not Just for Storms Anymore

For many part-time workers and minimum-wage earners, this time of uncertainty may become an economic hardship.  Not only have many of our hourly workers not put aside a Florida “hurricane pantry” but cannot afford to do so now all at once.  And certainly not with store shelves mostly depleted and their jobs on hold.

Use the Telephone
Woman on the phone

Woman on the phone.

Be sure to call or text neighbors and coworkers to check in.  Do they need anything with which you could help?  Let them know you can do a “dead-drop” by their door.  Give them the “Spock” wave, a quick “live long and prosper“, and be on your way.

We’ve all noticed shortages of hand sanitizer, canned goods, pain relievers, toilet paper and baby wipes.  Some stores are taking this opportunity to do a deep cleaning since there is so little inventory to get in the way.  Then when we do get back to “normal shopping”, we can look forward to it knowing all those restocked items are their very freshest since last hurricane season.

Finding What We Need
Couple grocery shopping the produce isle

Produce shopping “date” in a grocery store. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Finding needed food items may be as simple as shopping locally or ordering and having things delivered or for pick-up.  You may put a shout-out via Facebook that your family needs some fresh produce.  Then someone out there may see your need and say, “Hey, I’ve got a starfruit (citrus, mulberry, papaya, banana, etc.) tree loaded with ripe fruit (or tomatoes in the garden), come pick what you need for your family.”  Try local growers too.  Local magazines and private newspapers/newsletters sometimes have listings for “Shopping Locally” or “you-pick-it” farms.  Call first to be sure they are operating.  Ordering for curbside pick-up or delivery is still an option as well.

For cleaning supplies or paper goods many local chemical supply companies are open to the public.  You may have to buy in bulk and open an account with them.  But if you are picky about brand names, those are usually not an option as they only sell bulk commercial products.

It is Flu Season

Okay, so it is regular flu season.  And we should all be concerned with how and where we sneeze, hand washing, and staying away from anyone who seems sick.  How can you tell if it’s Covid-19 or the regular flu or even seasonal allergies?  At this time there is no at-home or instant test kit available for Covid-19 nor any other viruses.

You can check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov for the list of symptoms from Covid-19 (more links are listed below). Those listed symptoms are general but can get VERY severe, lasting over 2 weeks.  And yet some folks don’t even feel that bad and still may be carrying the illness.  The main issue seems to be a severe breathlessness from pneumonia with persistent fever which does NOT respond to over-the-county fever reducers.  And if you are ill, STAY HOME!  No one will call you brave if you infect us all with the virus to prove your fortitude.  Call a neighbor for a “dead-drop” of supplies and call you doctor if you think you may have the illness.  They will ask you questions and instruct you what to do.

“Social Distancing” and Hygiene
Washing hands with soap and water

Handwashing – PR Newswire

The term, “social distancing” just means we stay a certain amount of feet away from people not living in our household with us.  Maybe even distancing from our own family if I am ill or they have been out in public.  No kissing, hugging, or handshaking acquaintances.  No sharing drinks, straws, utensils, or even home-baked goods with others.  Sneeze into a tissue and dispose of it.  Wash hands, wash hands, WASH HANDS!  Proper hand washing is scrubbing soapy hands for 20 seconds (sing the alphabet or Happy Birthday a couple of times), then rinse, dry with paper towels and use the towels to turn off the faucet.  Get another towel with which to open the bathroom door to exit, keeping your clean hands clean.

Viruses are some of the very tiniest forms of life.  Often they are smaller than the microscopic holes that exist in plastic wrap, baggies, latex, or medical masks.  They can be aerosolized.  This means they can stick to the microscopic moisture droplets (think breath-fogged glass) in your breath, spreading as you exhale.  This seems to be the case with Covid-19

teen pulling weeds

Teen weeding & harvesting

“Live Long and Prosper”

But daily exercise can help us keep strong and healthy.  According to my Navy Uncle, a simple breathing exercise they teach divers to strengthen the lungs goes like this:  Take in a deep breath of fresh air, as deep as you can.  Then suck in a bit more, and again a bit more.  Hold it for as long as you can.  Then, let it out slowly.  Repeat often every day.  Over time this will increase lung capacity and control.

Things to Remember
  • Illness hates fresh air.  So go outside and get some every day.  Avoid others doing the same.
  • When someone sneezes, it takes 10 feet before droplets begin to descend to the ground.  Stay farther than that distance in social situations.
  • If Coronavirus lands on a smooth surface, such as metal or plastic, it can live for three days!  So wash hands if you come into contact with smooth surfaces- door handles, shopping carts, faucets, gas pumps, touch pads on ATM’s , pens, etc.
  • Viruses on fabric can survive for 6-12 hours.  Normal laundering will kill them on fabrics.
  • Stay hydrated! Water, tea, coffee, juice, seltzer, lemonade, Gatorade, ginger ale, herbal “tea”, Roselle punch, smoothies, Lassies, etc.  Beverages containing alcohol will DEHYDRATE you and can cause liver damage.
  • Wash hands OFTEN, especially before eating, blowing your nose, or rubbing your eyes.  The regular flora of your skin usually kills most harmful germs within minutes.  But it only takes a second to habitually rub your eye, where most illnesses enter.

    mosquito on a finger

    (Culex nigripalpus) mosquito (UF/IFAS/File Photo)

  • Keep hands away from the face– see above.
  • Covid-19 is NOT transmitted by mosquitoes.

Be sure to get out in the fresh air and sunshine as much as you can each day.  Flu season is really only a season because it gets cold outside and we close up the house.  That’s the time of year when we huddle up indoors with the windows closed to stay warm.  Or in Florida, indoors with the A/C on and windows closed up.  It makes a perfect virus breeding ground.

Stay Informed with REAL News

It is very important to stay informed.  But for the sake of your sanity, try keeping it to a minimum of only twice a day.  Unless the news is your line of work, repeated dousings of bad news will bring down morale and make you overly anxious.  It is very important to let your family see you calm, strong, and upbeat.

The County Cooperative Extension Services tries to keep up with the daily changes involving the University of Florida (UF), the National Health Department, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and local County instructions.  All of us should stay on top of the latest from the CDC, WHO, and your local and National Health Departments and your local county’s closings and mandates.

So here are some of those links for your further reading: