Today the World Health Organization has officially classified the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, a pandemic. In the three months since the first cases were initially recognized, this virus has swept the globe. (Watch announcement.)
As of the writing of this article, there have been almost 120,000 lab confirmed cases, over 4,000 deaths, and no one really knows just how many people are infected. (Stay up-to-date on the global numbers.)
What is novel coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, meaning that it is a new, never-before-seen virus within the coronavirus type. It can lead to upper respiratory infection and is spread through coughing, sneezing, close contact, or touching an object or surface that is contaminated.
To learn more about COVID-19, watch this five-minute video from John Hopkins Medicine.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is proving to be dangerous for those with underlying health conditions or over the age of 60. Due to the nature of the virus, some people may have very mild symptoms and others can develop pneumonia that requires medical intervention. We, unfortunately, saw this in Washington last week and are seeing it play out on a large scale in Italy right now.How do you keep a healthy home when the World Health Organization has officially classified the novel #coronavirus, COVID-19, a #pandemic? Remain calm and read this. Click To Tweet
How do I protect myself and my family from coronavirus?
You have probably already heard it, but the most effective methods of protecting yourself and your family from the coronavirus is to practice standard hygiene practices. Whether it is protecting yourself from the common cold, influenza, or COVID-19, you should:
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Use a tissue, handkerchief, or the crook of your elbow. DO NOT cough or sneeze onto or into your hand.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in running water. Teach your children to wash their hands properly with soap. Have them sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice or “Jesus Loves Me” or the even Alphabet Song to help them know how long they need to wash.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
- Do not touch your face, eyes, or mouth. This can be a hard one, but we need to start being intentional and aware of what we do with our hands.
- Stay home when sick. If you or a family member are sick, self-isolate by staying at home. Do not go to work or school as you risk spreading the illness to others.
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick. Keep at least three feet from someone who is coughing or sneezing. Avoid large crowds and gatherings.
- Properly clean and disinfect surfaces where droplets can reside and be accidentally passed to others. This includes door knobs, counters, desks, toys, phones, computers, etc.
- Increase the ventilation of your home by opening windows or adjusting the air conditioner.
The CDC has provide this printable document with helpful guidelines on how you can keep your home (workplace or school) safe and what to do if someone in your home is sick.
Know the symptoms of coronavirus
If you or a member of your family do become sick, it may not necessarily be COVID-19. This is the time of year for respiratory illnesses like influenza and a wide variety of other colds. So how do you know? Without medical testing, we don’t know. That is why everyone and anyone who feels sick should stay home.
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of the coronavirus: fever, dry coughing, and shortness of breath. Symptoms can appear 2-14 days after initial exposure to the virus.
If you or a family member are showing these symptoms, call your healthcare provider before visiting or contact your local city, county, or state health department for instructions.
Other things you can do to prevent the illness from spreading within your family:
- Stay away from others. Use a separate room or bathroom from the rest of the family.
- Stay away from pets. If possible, have someone care for your pets during your illness.
- Ideally limit caregivers to one person. Wear a mask when with the sick person, wash hands thoroughly, use hand sanitizer, and clean/disinfect frequently.
- The sick individual should also wear a mask if they are around other people or pets (at home or in the car on the way to the doctor’s office).
- Do not share personal items: cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, etc.
For a full list of what to do if you or a family member is sick, visit the CDC’s website.
Protect yourself and your family from fear and panic
Because of the heavy yet sometimes conflicting news coverage and the rapid spread of this particular virus, fear and panic is on the raise. Many local stores are now out of basic yet important products like soap, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
At times like these, it is important that you protect yourself and your family from fear and panic. The best way to safeguard your family is to be informed with the facts and have a plan.The best way to safeguard your family during the #coronavirus pandemic is to be informed with the facts and have a plan. Click To Tweet
Do not allow yourself to be swept up in hysteria or panic. Avoid watching news and entertainment outlets that thrive on sensationalism and fear-mongering.
Get your coronavirus updates from reliable sources like:
- World Health Organization
- Centers for Disease Control
- Your local city, county, or state health department
Also seek out reputable sources for news. There are many, but you can start with:
Don’t fall for the latest cure that scrolls by your phone or drops in your inbox. Protect yourself and your family from misinformation, memes, false cures, preventative methods, and treatments that circle the Internet these days by deleting chain emails and messages. You can verify any such claims by visiting Snopes’ Coronavirus Collection: Fact-checking COVID-19.
Make a plan
Each family should sit down and make a plan that is informed by the facts. While making your action plan, consider the following questions and scenarios:
- What will you do if you or a family member becomes sick?
- How will you manage if your employer closes down or has everyone work remotely from home?
- Are you able to pay your bills if you have to take an extended leave of absence, paid or unpaid?
- What will you do if your child(ren)’s school or daycare closes?
- Do you have enough groceries, items, and medications for two weeks of self-isolation (should it become necessary)? How would you get extra supplies if you are isolated?
- Do you have elderly family members or elderly neighbors? What can you do to help them prepare?
Be prepared now so you are ready in the event that your community is hit hard and social-distancing or self-isolation is recommended by your local health officials.
It is important to remain calm. By staying informed, having a plan of action should things happen in your community or home, and taking basic precautions, you are safeguarding your health and the health of your family. Worry, panic, and fear will not help. It only make things worse.
Especially if you have children. Children can pick up on your fear and anxiety. Depending upon the ages of your children, you may decide to avoid discussing the pandemic in their presence. If your children are older and already aware of the pandemic, you should give them the facts in a calming manner with reassurance that your family is prepared.
If you do find your family stuck at home due to an illness or community-encouraged self-isolation, try to keep things upbeat and positive. Have fun activities ready to keep your children occupied. If you are able to, spend time everyday outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine. Keep the television or radio off of the news channels.
As far as possible keep to your regular routine or have a modified routine ready. Spend quality time with your children reading, playing, cooking, and enjoying meals together. Encourage them to help with the daily cleaning the home. Find little ways to turn this unpleasant situation into something positive for your family.
Live an abundant life
In the book of Philippians, we are reminded about living an abundant life through Christ. Here is how:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:4-9, ESV
Looking for more Scriptural encouragement? You might be interested in my devotional series: His Encouragement.
Is your church is closed? My friend Brianna at DiscipleMama shares a few fantastic ideas for how you can be the church in the face of new social distancing guidelines.
Yes, we are currently living in a time of a pandemic. Depending upon where you live, your community may or may not be affected by the spread of the coronavirus at this moment. It may be coming to a city or town near you soon.
But this is not the time to panic or fear. Listen to the instructions of your local health departments. Use standard hygiene practices. Stay home when sick. Maintain a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet and exercise. Check in with vulnerable family members and neighbors. Remain calm and stay positive.
May your home be filled with love, peace, joy, and laughter.