by Anne Goldberg, the Savvy Senior
Everywhere you turn, conversations are focused on the Corona virus. Fueled by ignorance and fear, people are stockpiling water and toilet paper, and buying – or trying to buy – masks. It seems we are on the verge of panic. So for those of you rocking hard in fear, here are some statistics and solid information from Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, a professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of California Los Angeles and former director of the Division of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. (The whole article is available at: https://www.nextavenue.org/adults-should-know-coronavirus/)
The Chinese Center for Disease Control had an age breakdown of the first 45,000 cases — just slightly over 400 cases were in children ages 0 to 9 and there were no deaths in that age group. A full 80% of the deaths recorded are those over the age of sixty with 75% of those deaths being those with pre-existing health conditions, especially cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which also tend to be in the elderly as well. The virus appears to be spread primarily by respiratory droplets in a cough or sneeze and is usually within about six feet of contact or in contact with a surface or something that’s been contaminated.
Dr. Kim-Farley points out that, on average in the U.S., 36,000 people die of influenza every year. The fatality rate, on average, is two percent. SARS was about nine and a half percent, MERS — Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome — was about thirty-four and a half percent. The Covid 19 virus is holding at a death rate of about 2.3%, with the highest percentage for those over 80 with pre-existing conditions. (http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/02/study-72000-covid-19-patients-finds-23-death-rate)
I have to admit that I placed my order for surgical masks on Amazon when I first heard about this and now I’ve cancelled the order. Why? From the stand-point of self-protection, the standard masks do not make a tight seal around the mouth and nose, thereby allowing random droplets access to these areas. More importantly, our eyes are just as vulnerable as our noses and mouths and those are not covered with these masks. If an infected person sneezes in your direction, even with glasses, your eyes are not protected and can be an entry point for the virus. The take-away? Covering one’s mouth and nose actually gives a false sense of security.
So what steps can we take to keep us safer? We can focus on strengthening our immune systems. A strong immune system is an important line of defense for this opportunistic virus. How to do that? FIRST, wash your hands constantly throughout the day for 20 seconds with soap, water and vigorous rubbing. (Sing the Happy Birthday song to yourself twice and you’re good.) Adequate handwashing is a critical piece of the staying healthy puzzle. SECOND, stay away from sick people (that one seems fairly self-evident,) THIRD, a healthy diet and judicious use of supplements.
Be a Savvy Senior. Don’t get lost in fear and worry as that will not keep you healthy. Nourishing yourself with whole foods, washing your hands often and effectively and supplementing judiciously just may help you stay healthy in the coming months and years.