Facts Not Fear

“There is no greater fear than the fear of uncertainty because the unknown is something that can’t be looked in the face, challenged, overcome.”

That’s why this COVID-19 business is so unsettling: we just don’t know. And not knowing, not understanding what, why, who, and when will drive one crazy — if we let it.

Here’s just one batch of Coronavirus headlines in one Sunday news outlet:

Kentucky patient under 24/7 armed guard after REFUSING to self-isolate…

Ohio Orders All Restaurants, Bars Into Close…

Illinois Too…

‘Time For Persuasion And Public Appeals Is Over’…

How the USA Reached Turning Point…

NEWT: Plan For Worst-Case…

Will require World War II like response…

CUOMO: Mobilize the Military…

A cautionary tale from Italy…

Attitudes split along partisan lines…

Presidential Party Became Coronavirus Hot Zone…

TRUMP NEGATIVE…

HELL: Travelers Waiting ‘Shoulder To Shoulder’ For Hours…

BAN EXPANDS…

FEAR SYSTEM WILL BUCKLE…

S&P 500 Had Choppiest Week Since Hoover Was President…

Mnuchin vows to keep markets open…

Bank in Midtown Cleaned Out of $100 Bills…

States turn to cash reserves…

Seattle Airport to House Homeless…

Robberies by suspects wearing medical masks in multiple states…

How many of those stories did I read? NONE. I’m personally tired of the non-stop noise.

Here’s what we at TruthNewsNetwork are going to do everyday beginning tomorrow: one bullet-point section at the bottom of each story will outline the latest statistics and “facts” regarding coronavirus that we have been able to verify are actual. Most will agree that we’re NOT getting very much information about COVID-19 that we are comfortable in believing IS accurate. I’ve had enough of that!

We have what some may feel is an unfair advantage. That have is a niece named Dr. Jessica Manning. She’s a brainiac. She has trampled through the jungles of Africa chasing ebola, dinge fever, and the latest is COVID-19 in Cambodia. She’s renowned for her work in infectious diseases for the last decade+. And she found herself of late in the epicenter of Coronavirus.

Zuckerberg and Gates funded a massive research project to find an automatic method to identify diseases quickly through a person’s blood. Just weeks ago, they did just that!

An article published just days ago tells the story (and her in this part of the story). I thought it would be timely to share so that you can feel a bit more comfortable about the unknowns and that at least part of them  — at least in small part — are about to be made much easier to make “certain.” If you want to read the story before finishing here today, click on the following link: https://www.wired.com/story/a-disease-tracker-backed-by-gates-and-zuckerberg-tackles-covid-19/

Panic Begats Mania

We’ve all seen and heard the horror stories about what’s happening in the coronavirus surroundings. It seems that today’s Media are focused on nothing about ridding the world of this horrible disease, but are concentrating on blaming folks for its every existence. The conspiracy theorists are everywhere. And the list for blood and ratings drive the ship.

There ARE certain factual things we should process to consider actual actions for us to take. You’ve heard many of them already. But you probably have not heard from someone from within the inner circle who has a history of dealing with serious issues. None of those are probably in the class of COVID-19. But there have been many. Wouldn’t it be wise to turn to someone who can back out the insanity and give just some plain facts and suggestions for we non-medical dweebs to launch in our lives? We have someone with that kind of advice. Here are his ideas for me and you:

Brigham and Women’s Hospital | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Hi,

I know there is some confusion about what to do next in the midst of this unprecedented time of a pandemic, school closures, and widespread social disruption. I have been asked by a lot of people for my opinion, and I will provide it below based on the best information available to me today. This is my personal and well-informed opinion, and my take on the necessary steps ahead.

What I can say as a physician and public health leader, is that what we do, or don’t do, over the next week will have a massive impact on the local and perhaps national trajectory of coronavirus. We are only about 11 days behind Italy and generally on track to repeat what is, unfortunately, happening there, as well as much of the rest of Europe very soon. At this point, containment through contact tracing and testing is only part of the necessary strategy. We must move to pandemic mitigation through widespread, uncomfortable, and comprehensive social distancing. That means not only shutting down schools, work (as much as possible), group gatherings, and public events. It also means making daily choices to stay away from each other as much as possible to Flatten The Curve (see below).

Our health system will not be able to cope with the projected numbers of people who will need acute care should we not muster the fortitude and will to distance each other, starting now socially. On a regular day, we have about 45k ICU beds nationally, which can be ramped up in a crisis to about 93k. Even moderate projections suggest that if current infectious trends hold, our capacity (locally and nationally) may be overwhelmed as early as mid-late April. Thus, the only set of interlinked strategies that can get us off this concerning trajectory is to work together as a community to maintain public health by staying apart.

The wisdom, and necessity, of this more aggressive, early, and extreme form of social distancing can be found here. I would urge you to take a minute walking through the interactive graphs – they will drive home the point about what we need to do now to avoid a worse crisis later.

So what does this enhanced form of social distancing mean on a daily basis, when schools are canceled?

I can suggest the following:

1. No playdates, parties, sleepovers, or families visiting each other’s houses. This sounds extreme because it is. We are trying to create distance between family units and between individuals across those family units. It is uncomfortable, especially for families with small children or for kids who love to play with their friends. But even if you choose only one friend to have over, you are creating new links and possibilities for the type of transmission that all of our school/work/public event closures are trying to prevent. The symptoms of coronavirus take 4-5 days to manifest themselves. Someone who comes overlooking well can transmit the virus. Sharing food is particularly risky – I do not recommend that people do so outside of their family. We have already taken extreme social measures to address this severe disease – let’s not actively co-opt our efforts by having high levels of social interaction at people’s houses instead of the schools. Again – the wisdom of early and aggressive social distancing is that it can flatten the curve above, give our health system a chance not to be overwhelmed, and eventually may reduce the length and need for more extended periods of extreme social distancing later (see what has transpired in Italy and Wuhan). We need to all do our part during these times, even if it means some discomfort.

2. Take walks/runs outside, but maintain distance (ideally 6 feet between people outside your family). Try not to use public facilities like playground structures as coronavirus can live on plastic and metal for up to 3 days, and these structures aren’t getting regularly cleaned. Try not to have physical contact with people outside of your family. Going outside will be necessary during these strange times, and the weather is improving. Go outside every day if you can but stay physically away from others. Try not to have kids play with each other (even outside) if that means direct physical contact. Also basketball or soccer involves direct contact and cannot be recommended. If people wish to go outside and have a picnic with other families, I strongly recommend keeping the distance of at least 6 feet, not sharing any food at all, and not having direct physical contact. Invariably, that is hard with kids, so these shared, “distant” picnics may be tricky. Do not visit nursing homes or other areas where large numbers of the elderly reside, as they are at highest risk for complications and mortality from coronavirus. We need to find alternate ways to reduce social isolation in these communities through virtual means instead of physical in-person visits.

3. Reduce the frequency of going to stores/restaurants/coffee shops for the time being. Of course trips to the grocery store will be necessary, but try to limit them and go at times when less busy. Consider wearing gloves (not medical – but perhaps washable) and of course, washing hands before and after well. Leave the medical masks and gloves for the medical professionals – we need them. Maintain social distance from folks. Take-out meals and food are riskier than making food at home, given the links between the people who prepare food, transport the food, and you. It is hard to know how much that risk is, but it is undoubtedly higher than making it at home.

4. If you are sick, definitely stay home and contact a medical professional. If you are sick, you should try to isolate yourself from the rest of your family within your house as best as you can. If you have questions about whether you qualify or should get a coronavirus test, you can call you primary care team and/or consider calling the Partners Health Care hotline staffed 8AM-8PM every day – 617 724 7000, or the Massachusettes department of public health at 617 983 6800. Don’t just walk into an ambulatory clinic – call first. If it is an emergency, call 911.

5. We need to push our local, state, and national leaders to close ALL schools, events, gatherings, and public spaces now. A local, town by town response won’t have the needed effect. We need a statewide, nationwide approach in these trying times. Contact your representative and the governor to urge them to enact statewide closures. As of today, 6 states had already done so. We should be one of them. Also, urge them to fund emergency preparedness and make increasing coronavirus testing capacity an immediate and top priority.

I realize there is a lot built into these suggestions, and that they represent a real burden for many people, businesses, and communities. Social distancing is hard and may negatively impact others, especially those who face vulnerabilities in our society. I recognize that there is structural and social inequity built in and around social distancing recommendations. We can and must take steps to bolster our community response to people who face food insecurity, domestic violence, and housing challenges, along with the many other social inequities.

I also realize that not everyone can do everything. But we have to try our absolute best as a community, starting today. It is a public health imperative. If we don’t do this now voluntarily, it will become necessary later involuntarily, when the potential benefits are much less than doing so right now.

Asaf Bitton MD, MPH | Executive Director | Ariadne Labs

Summary

Dr. Bitton is NOT a political pundit, A Democrat or Republican. He’s a doctor who specializes in what we’re dealing with today. Do I think he’s absolutely right on absolutely everything he said? I HAVE NO IDEA! That the problem with the uncertainty we face. Sometimes we just don’t know. And many of us react to that uncertainly by cranking up the fear machine. Fear does us NO good at all. It only creates unnecessary and often damaging thoughts and ideas.

Why not just relax it today, stay away from the Mainstream Media, stay away from the television and radio network gurus who are admittedly scrambling for ratings for advertising revenue. Why not spend the day “thinking” about where we are, where you and your family are, and how you can best prepare for the unknown that’s ahead? It certainly seems that doing so will do much more for you and those for which you are most concerned.

Want another old “Fear Thought” to concentrate on today?

Everything you want is on the other side of Uncertainty and Fear.”

Step back and seek some truths that you can implement to get you through all that and to the things that you want without Fear.


2 thoughts on “Facts Not Fear

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.