The messaging around our current situation could be really depressing. We went from yellow to orange to red. The government probably already knew that we were going in that direction but by doing it this way they haven’t helped us to ease into the new situation; what they’ve done is discourage and, in some cases, panic us. What we need is leadership and transparency. So let’s go through what we know and what we can do.
We predicted that the numbers were going to get worse as we moved indoors. The fact that things haven’t gotten completely out of control is a testimony to how reasonable and careful most of us have been. Mask wearing, distancing, and hand washing works. We’ve got to get everyone to do it and do it more consistently, but it has made a difference.
What else can we do? Improve the ventilation wherever you are. Opening a window even a few inches helps. You can use a fan to draw in more air from outside but don’t blow the air directly at someone. Maintain the humidity between 40 and 60 per cent. Too humid is not good (mould and mildew grow), too dry and the virus will thank you.
Keep it in this so-called “Goldilocks-zone” where your nose and eyes will be well hydrated (which increases their ability to protect you) and the virus likes it the least.
Wipe down regularly used surfaces from time to time, perhaps daily rather than weekly depending on how many different people use them. Soap and water is more than adequate to clean those surfaces where they can be safely used.
Take charge of your situation. If you are at home, stay on a schedule. Get up, wash up and get dressed — even if you’re staying in. Take a break from the computer. Try the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds to relax your neck, back and eyes. During conference calls get up and stand. Every day, do something physical and see nature. Go for a walk. Call out to your neighbours from your porch. All these things will help you to cope.
Unfortunately, this virus isn’t going away for a while. This can be an opportunity for us to be creative. Start planning now for a COVID-modified Thanksgiving and Halloween. We must not allow our holidays, traditions and our lives to fall apart. The best response to our current situation is not to stick our heads in the sand or to give up, it’s to adapt — which we can do.
Dr. Mitch Shulman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at McGill Medical School as well as an Attending Physician in the Emergency Department of the McGill University Health Centre. He’s also the CJAD AM 800 Medical Consultant.