By Jane M. Orient, M.D. –
Some of the views expressed here are controversial. So, do ask your doctor. I hope you have one—not just the HMO or retail clinic “provider.”
- Don’t panic. That is always good advice. If you, like the world’s economy, operate on just-in-time inventories, and did not take advice to stock up 3 weeks ago, do not join a mob at a big-box store. Somebody there is no doubt infected. Plus, there’s the risk of getting trampled or injured in a fist fight over the last roll of toilet paper. Most of the world survives without that luxury good. If you have no rice or beans or pasta in the pantry, that is more serious, but you should still avoid mobs if at all possible. Take-out and drive-through places are booming.
Now for some dos:
- Do prepare to take care of yourself and your family. Be sure you have a fever thermometer, disposable gloves, plastic garbage bags, and cleaning supplies. A pulse oximeter, available in many places for around $40, is good to have to check oxygen levels.
- Do clean and disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, telephones, computer keyboards, toilets, and countertops often. Virus can persist there for days.
- Do remember that sunlight is the best disinfectant. If you don’t have a pocket ultraviolet lamp (they are or were available on amazon), try putting things like masks or paper currency out in the sun. The idea should be rigorously tested, but in times of need, you may have to guess.
- Do wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer. With SARS-CoV-2, most disinfectants work, including 70-percent-alcohol-based sanitizers.
- Do put a mask on sick people if you can. For protecting yourself you need a minimum of an N95 mask and eye protection.
- Do take your vitamins. Most people may be vitamin D deficient. Your need for vitamin C escalates with infection. Some 50 tons of vitamin C was shipped to Wuhan, and studies of effectiveness are underway.
- Do get your essential prescriptions refilled for 90 days—the supply chain depends on China. If your managed-care plan won’t pay, consider paying cash. You may be able to get a good price with a coupon from goodrx.com.
- Do protect your immune system, with adequate sleep, exercise, fresh air, and diet, especially avoiding sugar if you feel ill.
- Do help your neighbors, and be responsible about protecting others as well as yourself from contagion.
Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989. She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira's Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Wolters Kluwer. She authored books for schoolchildren, Professor Klugimkopf’s Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf’s Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, Neomorts and Moonshine. More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and nonhazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.