Watching others lack empathy and understanding can feel like a knife to the heart. Maskless folks inspire feelings of dread and anger. America’s challenge is keeping up the momentum for protecting our country from being severely ravaged even more by the virus.
In the last two weeks, President Donald Trump has continued to spew more misinformation about the virus, adding layers to the American public’s confusion. Just two weeks ago, Trump degraded masks again by citing an out-of-context quote by Dr. Anthony Fauci. According to a Cornell University study, Trump’s misinformation spread drove COVID-19 spikes in the United States.
The study found that President Trump’s comments about “miracle cures” generated a large growth in infections. The president’s insistence on unproven treatments, such as hydroxychloroquine, and speaking of a drug to stave off the virus created big spikes in the “infomedic”— falsities about the pandemic.
According to data compiled by a New York Times project, the third peak in cases is likely coming soon.
“We are starting from a much higher plateau than we were before the summer wave,” Caitlin Rivers, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist told the New York Times. “It concerns me that we might see even more cases during the next peak than we did during the summer.”
The fact of the matter is that COVID-19 is not going anywhere anytime soon. Our next major step will come when a science-approved vaccine becomes available. Cases continue to rise, as does the death toll
Despite the administration’s lack of efficient action, drugmakers appeased worries by confirming a vaccine will only be available when proven to be safe. The companies in question are AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer and Sanofi. In the meantime, we can take our own initiative to ensure the safety and health of ourselves and others by following just three simple steps.
Wear a Mask
Wearing a mask is an effective way to slow the spread of the virus. While scientists still are learning more about COVID-19 every day, they say wearing a mask is an efficient protection against the virus.
“What we need is to get the message across that we are all in this together. And it’s important because one of the purposes of the masks is that if you may be inadvertently walking around not knowing you’re infected,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a Q&A about COVID-19. “We have to keep hammering home with that message.”
There are three types of effective masks. First, fabric masks are washable and can show individuality in creative patterns. A note of caution: fabric masks only have one protective layer that cannot block fine or ultra-fine droplets.
The second type of protective mask is surgical masks. It has two protective layers and is comfortable. Make sure to cut the strings when you throw it away so it won’t choke a sea turtle!
The best kind of mask is an N95/KN95 with a respirator. It has several layers of protection to seal out ultra-fine droplets. However, these should be preserved for medical workers and immunocompromised folks.
Practice Social Distancing
Social distancing is beneficial for all. It is still key that nonessential visits are limited. You can keep a small quarantine circle or connect with loved ones through Facetime or Zoom. Luckily, there are many ways to continue to have an exciting life while in quarantine.
Data shows keeping a distance of six feet can protect from droplets spread by sneezing and coughing from an infected person.
Keeping a daily routine of enjoyable and meaningful activities can help maintain sanity while in lockdown. Some examples:
- Listening to podcasts
- Reading a new book
- Learning to bake something new
- Going on a walk
- Going on a deep internet search of something interesting (looking at verified sources, of course!
- Watching a film series
- Catching up on a new TV show
It is also valuable to create long term events that propel motivation over time. For example:
- Plan a camping trip with your quarantine circle
- Plan a hike in a new city
- Watch a Zoom movie with your friends
Act with kindness
Scientists’ understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve as the virus spreads. The most powerful motivator to still care about the disease is kindness.
During this time, it is important to think about the greater good of humanity. We can return to social living eventually, but championing collectivism over individualism can help speed up the process. It is paramount to care for your neighbors and those who are most vulnerable right now.
Research shows the virus disproportionately affects Black and Brown low-income communities. Many low-income neighborhoods are unable to stop working and additionally do not have access to premium health care. Sticking to only essential trips is a form of kindness that can help to slow the spread into these neighborhoods.
Addressing privilege is also important. Other people’s misfortunes may not be the center of thought for some, but allyship can make a huge impact. Financial strains, which have been heightened by the pandemic, affect more than meets the eye and kindness goes a long way.
Additionally, while the death toll may be lower among young folks, it is still dangerous for anyone to get sick. Not only do young people have the possibility of speeding up the spreading process, but the long term effects of COVID-19 are still unknown. Wearing masks is a form of kindness because it acknowledges the risk factors of people besides yourself and close family and friends.
Another huge factor in showing kindness is being kind to oneself. Spending time journaling or taking time to focus on your mental health and well being is an essential priority COVID-19 is heavily overwhelming to keep up to date on, but knowledge is our greatest weapon.
COVID-19 may be infectious, however so is a consideration. By staying home and leading safe lives, kindness will help slow the spread of the virus and lend towards the end of the pandemic.