There is nothing fun or exciting about a public health crisis, and as of this writing, the COVID-19 coronavirus is affecting many parts of the world, from China (the starting point) to Europe and now the United States as well. Some American states have more cases than others, with California and Oregon seeing many cases while other states have not yet been heavily impacted. But all the same, you can and should take a variety of steps to keep your family healthy, safe, financially secure, and relatively happy during a time like this. You may be surprised at the ways you can prepare for a public health crisis. What might they be?
Visit Doctors and Nurses Any Way You Can
Let’s start with the most prominent topic: healthcare professionals. Fortunately, the American healthcare system is a robust one; for example, it alone holds around 45% of the world’s pharmaceutical market. What is more, a few thousand different urgent care clinics can be found across the nation, often built into strip malls, retailers, or even inside hospitals. And that’s not counting the many family doctor’s offices out there and general doctor’s clinics that Americans visit. You can find local urgent care centers and hospitals online if need be, and if you need to find one at an odd time of day, such as 3:00 AM, be sure to specify that you need a 24-hour clinic (not all of them are open 24 hours a day). While driving, you can find them via their signs, which should be easy to spot. Many businesses draw in customers with well-placed and attractive signs; around 17% of Best Buy’s walk-in customers visited after they saw a prominent sign in the area. But try and limit your in-person clinic or hospital visits for when you have definite and serious symptoms if at all possible. Anything short of that, and it is better to stay at home as much as possible.
If you cannot easily visit a nearby doctor’s clinic or hospital due to distance or the fear of catching something there, what should you do? This is where telemedicine comes in. While a young field, the idea of telemedicine is growing fast, and it is excellent for anyone (maybe including you) who cannot easily visit a doctor in person. You can look up virtual doctors online in your area and set up a video chat session with one, and via that video service, you may talk to the doctor and show them any symptoms that you have. You can even schedule a postpartum appointment to speak with your doctor after your baby arrives! Some of these doctors may also be available late at night, too, and any of these doctors can use Cloud data storage to access your medical records for reference.
Be aware that you might experience a shortage of available medical professionals in your area, though, from doctors to nurses to pharmacists. Even though many are at work across the U.S. today, even this generous resource may end up quite strained. Other major industries also have over 100,000 workers (there were 138,900 sheet metal workers in 2016) but don’t coast too much on that fact. Try and be quick about seeing your family physician or getting time for yourself at a local urgent care center.
Finances and Remote Work
Another major impact that a public health crisis may have on your life is not only the threat of illness but also harm to your financial life. How? Many businesses are being temporarily closed or sending employees home, and that might include you. Your finances may not easily endure a change like this, so if this hasn’t yet happened to you, prepare for it. For one thing, draw up a budget and list all of your typical purchases and expenses for a given month, and see what it adds up to and what you are spending money on. You might be surprised at how many unnecessary expenses show up, and cutting them can make a big difference. You (like other Americans) may be in for some lean times, and slashing fancy expenses can help make your money last longer until everything is back to normal. At the very least, postpone or cancel any major expenses you had planned, such as investing in stocks or real estate, buying a car or recreational vehicle, and purchasing a house or a condo. Heavy mortgage payments are the last thing you need right now. And you can easily cut out other expenses such as daily Starbucks drinks or multiple video streaming services.
Doing all this allows you to determine what it takes to break even each month, or at least greatly slow down your financial losses, and if your spouse is working, they should do the same. But you might not be out of work entirely; perhaps you could work remotely? Even without a public health crisis in progress, many American office workers opt to work remotely, so they can avoid the noise and any dirtiness that an office may provide. Employees at home get a quiet and clean space in which to work, and they can also spare themselves the time (and gas money) of commuting. If your manager allows it, start working remotely, using a PC with an internet connection and a phone and fax machine to do everything remotely. With Cloud data storage access, email, faxes, phones, and video chat apps, you can stay connected and avoid missing work. Just make sure that you have a dedicated room for work where you are comfortable and will not be interrupted.
Health and Cleaning
They like to say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this quaint saying is especially true when it comes to health, with or without a public health crisis in progress. You do not need a full-blown hazmat suit to visit your mailbox, and you don’t even have to stay inside your home every minute of the day. But then again, be smart and careful about life both inside and outside the home. If you feel ill, stay home and wait to recover, unless your condition becomes direr. While outside, try staying at least six feet apart from everyone else, and be cooperative with everyone else who is doing that, too. In short, everyone’s “personal space bubble” is going to be quite large. Be prepared for events and gatherings to be closed, and it may not be a good idea to visit busy malls or restaurants or movie theaters.
If you are spending more time at home to stay safe, this is a fine opportunity to catch up on all house cleaning and other chores that you have been meaning to do. This can be a productive time, especially if you draw up a schedule and make a checklist of things to do (and ask your spouse and older children to help). Take this chance to tidy and organize the home and declutter the place, and this makes your home a nicer place to be during the coming weeks.
What sort of cleaning should you do? Set up a schedule for regularly (and often) wiping down countertops, tabletops, door handles and knobs, stairway guard rails, and faucets, to start with, and you can even wipe down the windows as well. Also, it’s best to clean everything in your kitchen with some vinegar! Replace your furnace’s air filter if you must, and feel free to hire an HVAC professional who can access the air ducts and clean them out, too. In homes and offices alike, many air ducts are currently filthy with pollen, dust, animal hairs, and bacteria, circulating disease and VOCs alike. Don’t let your air conditioner make things worse; hire someone to clean it out. If you continue to work at the office, ask if your manager is taking this step.
VOCs come not only from dirty air ducts, but also dirty carpets and large rugs. Due to their high fiber counts, carpets and rugs can soak up a lot of dirt and grime, including bacteria, and they are often dirtier than they look. So, you can regularly and carefully vacuum them all, but you can do more. Use a carpet cleaner to shampoo and wash the carpets, and you may be surprised to see how much more dirt is removed this way. If you cannot access a carpet cleaner or are too busy, consider hiring a maid service. Clean carpets also look and smell nice.
In short, preparing for a virulent outbreak means keeping your home clean, washing your hands and bathing daily, keeping a respectful distance from others, and even protecting your job and finances. All this will take some planning and effort, but it can be done, and pay off for your health and that of your community.