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Coronavirus: What to Know

For many people across the nation, and the globe, right now is a very serious and scary time. COVID-19, commonly known just as the coronavirus, has been declared a pandemic and is making its effects felt across the board. There is a lot of misinformation regarding the virus, how it spreads, and just how serious of a threat it may pose. However, one thing that is for certain is that it is proving to be a very real emergency that has affected everyday life in many ways.

First off, what is the coronavirus? This current coronavirus that we are faced with is a viral disease that mainly impacts the lungs. Symptoms include a cough, fever, shortness of breath, among others. It can take between 2-14 days for symptoms to appear, and many cases may even pass without showing any symptoms at all. This is a particular reason why the virus is so easily transmitted. Carriers can be contagious even without displaying any symptoms. This is one of the main reasons for the widespread recommendations to exercise social distancing of 6 feet away from others, just as a precaution. While it is true that the vast majority of severe and fatal cases are found in people aged 60+ and increasingly in people with underlying health issues such as immunodeficiency and heart or lung disease, healthy younger people can still become infected and carry the disease, spreading it further. The danger here, of course, is the disease can spread silently among people who are unlikely to feel heavy symptoms, if any at all, and those people may unknowingly pose a threat to others.

This information may seem scary at first, but it may be reassuring to know that the fatality rate of coronavirus cases, as of late February, was only about 2.3%. While it is still something that should still be taken very seriously, it is quite likely that someone who catches it will recover. If you are worried about contracting the virus, there are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself and others from potential infection. The biggest and easiest method of protection is to wash your hands with warm water and soap, or to use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Other measures you can take involve social distancing of 3-6 feet as we mentioned before, avoiding touching your face, avoiding large public gatherings, among others. Practicing good hygiene and healthy habits seem to be the most effective ways of protecting yourself from the virus. If you feel ill and worry that you may have the virus, the best thing to do is to self-quarantine for 14 days. All this means is staying home and avoiding any unnecessary interactions with other for two weeks. If you experience mild symptoms, home remedies and over the counter medicines to treat cold symptoms will help. If you are experiencing severe symptoms, it is advised that you seek primary care from your physician, or in more serious cases, going straight to urgent care or the emergency room. The main message here is to just be responsible and be considerate of others during the duration of this outbreak.

Something we have seen in recent days and weeks is the closing or temporary shutdown of businesses in our area, as well as around the world. This is having a massive effect on all corners of the economy, but it is proving to be especially rough for workers. Many businesses have unfortunately had to hold mass layoffs or furloughs for employees, creating a ripple effect on our communities. These are very unfortunate times and extremely challenging circumstances, but you are not alone. While assistance efforts are being presented and voted on at the federal level, there are many resources available right here in Southeastern Connecticut. Here is a list of various resources that may be useful to you and your peers. Our team at United Way of Southeastern Connecticut remains dedicated to providing assistance in as many ways as possible, and we will continue to provide Mobile Food Pantry distributions as scheduled as best as we can (for the latest information regarding MFP distributions, please like our Facebook or follow us on Twitter for real-time updates). There is also a COVID-19 hotline available by call or text 24/7, for any questions and concerns, or if you are just looking for more information. This hotline can be reached by calling 2-1-1, or by texting CTCOVID to 898211. There is also a Connecticut coronavirus website that contains updates, tracking, and resources from across the state.

We are all in this together. As the saying goes, “You cannot control what happens, only how you respond to it.” This is a time of fear and worry, but it can also be the time for us all to come together, to strengthen our communities, to unite and form bonds with one another. We will get through this, as we always do. We humans are tough and resilient, more than we often give ourselves credit for. By taking the necessary steps to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the coronavirus, we can reduce the risk it poses to us and our neighbors. Vaccines and medications are still months to over a year out from becoming widely available, making every measure we can take more crucial, especially now during the early stages of the outbreak. We see what is happening, and what the future may hold. But we don’t panic. We calmly take a deep breath, and confidently push on.