Imagine being stuck in a shopping mall when the lights go out. It’s a complete and unwelcome surprise. Your spacial awareness is hampered in an unfamiliar location. Moving around is dangerous with obstacles in your way. People are frightened.
Now imagine an emergency landing on an airplane. Still a scary situation, however every passenger has been given a safety briefing, so they look for the lighting along the aisle to guide them to the emergency exits.
The airline example is an attempt to both reassure people as well as make them aware of possible unplanned event, while the shopping mall example illustrates what happens when there’s no planning. COVID 19 is our shopping mall – an unwelcome surprise.
Shared Decisions has noted in previous posts that pandemic planning has been in place for quite some time. The 2005 Federal Strategic Plan was, like the airline, an effort to inform and help people prepare for a possible public health crisis. By discarding the plan, and not providing national guidance, it was up to each one of us and each community to consider how best to minimize harm.
Harm, both from the virus and harm to life, has turned our existence upside down. Many scientists have cautioned us about the unknowns of this virus and the possibility that it may be with us for a number of years, not weeks or months. Read How Might the Pandemic Play out….
In the The Science Advisory Board information from 40 UK scientists the understanding of SARS2 at this point in time is summarized. They are attempting to turn on the lights in our minds so we can plan and cope with the uncertainty.
Tips for Managing Your Own Risk
- Use the data in the COVID links in this Blog to monitor your own location for important facts such as Ro R “naught’, this is like the speedometer in the car, it lets you see the ease with which the virus is spreading. The COVID exit strategy map is a visual wake up to the US infections state by state.
- Create your own social circle, of 4-6 people who are working to minimize their risk of infection. This can become a micro social circle. Socialization is critical for overall feeling about how to deal with the amount of uncertainty in a pandemic.
- Consider how you can incorporate someone who is living alone into either your circle or how you can offer interaction with them. Loneliness and isolation are on the rise and clinicians are very concerned about the long term affects, especially with older people.
- Think like a pilot or mountain climber, where situational awareness is critical. This form of awareness helps us know what is going on in our environment. Explained by the Royal College of OB/GYN our perception, comprehension, and projection of an event helps to frame our view of situations we all confront while managing our own risk.
- As fall moves in and winter is on the way, the opportunity to spend time with others outside, following social distance guidelines, is going to disappear. Your options:
- Use known café or coffee shop with good cleaning standards and enforcement of social distance
- Wait for the next elevator, or take the stairs, if you are returning to an office
- Change sides of the street if walking and the crowd increase
- Always wear masks, and clean them regularly
- Know your own risk for having a more severe response should you become infected. Diabetes, Heart disease and obesity are consistently the top of the risk scale in COVID.
- Support your immune system with healthy diet, sleep, and exercise. Walking is good way to get outdoors, it also helps bone health and the mind.
Prepare like you are running an airline and think through the scenarios. These guidelines are simple practices that many people have already incorporated into their lives – a reminder of aspects we can control ourselves.
September 24, 2020: Tracking Our COVID-19 Response