OTish - COVID-19 and Step Families
This is a serious post. I'm highly interested to hear and share some ideas for protecting ourselves and our loved one during this now-official pandemic.
Some truths about this virus: If you're under 60 with no pre-existing conditions, the likelihood is that you'll have a relatively mild reaction to the virus. Mortality rates for the "young and healthy" are below 0.5%. Mortality rates skyrocket for folks over 60, especially those with chronic conditions. Mortality rate for folks over 80 in generally good health is 14-15%. Folks with chronic diseases vary based on the disease, which cardiovascular disease having a 10% mortality rate.
While many of us on this site are young and healthy, our parents are not. We may have immmunocompromised family and friends as well. Social distancing and quarantining, even when we are not sick, is going to be hugely important. Schools will shut down. Businesses will go to work-from-home structures for folks who can work from home. Events of all sizes, but particularly those with crowds over 100 people, will be canceled. I won't be surprised if daycares also start shutting down, especially if they are owned and operated by older staff.
So, let's talk realistic logistics for (step) life:
1.) SKs need to move between houses as little as possible. If their school shuts down, it would be best if the SKs stay at one home for at least two weeks to see if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 (which are flu-like symptoms: cough, fever, body aches, difficulty breathing). If they do not develop symptoms, resume a modified visitation schedule that limits midweek visits, especially if those visits typically take place in public spaces.
I understand for some of the HCBM/Ds that this won't work out well. This would be the time for NCPs to refuse visitation and for CPs for consider violating the court order and keeping their kids IF their kids have been exposed. That's not legal advice, so check with your attorney if you're concerned. But the goal is limit viral spread, so keep kids planted in one place as much as possible.
2.) Stock up on hand soap. Use sanitizer sparingly because it's going to remain a hot commodity. Keep a small bottle of both soap and hand sanitizer in your bag for when you're out in public. If you can get your hands on some Clorox wipes, put some in your bag to use on carts. Unless you're actively coughing, a mask won't do you much good, and if you don't know how to properly don and doff one, you could infect yourself. Seriously, just wash your hands and don't touch your face. Also, stock up on lotion because your hands will crack.
3.) If you can work from home, start doing it NOW. If your kids or SKs are in sports or other group activities, highly consider pulling them from those activities. Start doing this BEFORE you get a positive patient in your area because the likelihood that others have it by the time that person tests positive is high.
4.) Cancel family reunions and Sunday dinners. Utilize the sh*t out of Facetime and phone calls. Stay connected, but remain distant.
5.) Modify your schedule so that you aren't out and about at peak times. Go to the grocery at 9pm when fewer people are there. Don't go out to eat - order food to-go. If there is an online option to do something, like bank, then use that option. They are finding that, while COVID-19 does live on surfaces, the easiest route of transmission is through droplets in their air, which would come from sitting or standing or walking within 3-6 feet of people. Surfaces transmission can be greatly reduced by washing hands, and social distancing, even for needed services, will reduce the droplet/"airborne" transmission.
6.) If you think you have COVID-19, DO NOT GO TO THE DOCTOR UNLESS YOU ARE ACTIVELY DYING. Most hospitals are setting up virtual screenings and will instruct you on what to do if they believe you may be infected. Unfortunately, we likely don't have enough tests kits, and we certainly don't have enough hospital beds for non-critical patients. Don't bog down the hospital system unless you cannot breathe or your fever is exceptionally high. When in doubt, call your doctor. If it becomes emergent, call 911.
7.) DO call your doctor/hospital/health department if you feel like you have a mild case of a viral infection. This will help them keep track of spread, and they can determine what intervention is warranted.
8.) Stay the f**k home or isolated as much as possible. Turn that meeting into an email. Set up Zoom for work meetings. Cancel that training or conference. Break your Firestick and watch those theater-only movies from home (that's a joke - I'm not advocating for breaking the law). But seriously, stay home. I'm not saying never go out, because eventually people need to see the sun, but try to minimize it. Avoid bars and clubs where folks get together really close to one another. Avoid casinos where everyone touches everything. Avoid concerts. Actually use those streaming services you pay for.
9.) Don't lock yourself up inside day and night entirely. As it gets warmer, you can definitely enjoy the parks and outdoors. Get some exercise in the outdoors. You don't have to be a hermit and not leave your home. You just need to be mindful of where you go, when you go, and how many people will be there. Take a scenic drive, go to a drive-in movie where you'll be in your car, go fishing at the lake, etc. Just always think if you can realistically be 3-6 feet away from people when you're out.
10.) Keep a month's worth of supplies on hand. You don't need to buy the store out of toilet paper, but keep an extra pack in case you get sick. If you can get your meds delivered, do it. Keep a little extra of everything to limit the need to go to the store while you're healthy and prevent you from going when you get sick.
And when you get sick - because it's very likely to happen - STAY 100% AT HOME FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, PREFERABLY TWO WEEKS. If the SKs get sick in your home, KEEP THEM THERE! Suspend visitation if they get sick. Seriously, this is not a cold that everyone has some immunity to. Keep kids, and yourself, isolated even if you don't feel that bad.
I totally understand that these measures aren't realistic for everyone, but for those who can do these things, you NEED to do them. We aren't trying to contain the spread at this point; we're just trying to not overwhelm the healthcare system and buy time to develop a vaccine. It's about spreading out infection across a longer time period versus having a sudden surge of infections that cannot be handled. Truth is, there aren't enough resources to save everyone if we get a surge of infections. You taking precautions isn't just about preventing illness in yourself, but about slowing down the virus to someone who will need a bed in the ICU.
Don't panic, but act with purpose and concern.
Other tips and tricks that are sound are welcome. I will delete anyone who calls this a hoax or propaganda.