Help stop the spread of COVID-19

New trail signs for our new normal

A doctor friend recently shared some heartbreaking stories of patients having to receive cancer diagnoses alone due to COVID-19 restrictions at health centers. While some were able to have family members listen via virtual calls, it was still difficult not to have someone supporting them in-person. These stories reinforce the need to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

As a three-time cancer survivor, I can’t imagine going through treatment, tests and appointments alone. Having family and friends with me during treatment made for great distractions and support. And so many treatments can compromise immune systems, putting cancer patients at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Cancer is tough enough on its own. Treatment is scary and can cause side effects. Worrying about COVID-19 should not also be top of mind.

But it is. And as our COVID infections and deaths continue to rise, this virus continues to affect all of us.

Hope is on the horizon

Last week the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use in the United States. Trucks rolled out today to start distributing vaccines across the U.S. to help stop the spread of COVID-19. There is light slowly beaming into this dark tunnel.

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 benefits cancer survivors, children, businesses, high-risk populations, healthcare workers, hospitals, your neighbors, your friends, your family, YOU. The list goes on and on.

Please stop playing games with my life

Just like cancer, coronavirus doesn’t care who it hits. Like cancer, COVID-19’s impact on someone and long-term affects are difficult to predict. And like cancer, COVID-19 can kill even the seemingly healthiest person. But here is the stark difference between cancer and COVID-19. Cancer is not contagious. Coronavirus is. So you could unknowingly spread this virus to someone who could have serious complications. Even die. Are you willing to chance that?

Here’s what maddens me: if you want to play Russian roulette with your life and health, I can’t stop you. But how dare you risk MY health/life and others.

This is a global pandemic. It is not affecting only this country or certain towns. Yes, some are hit harder than other areas. Some populations are affected more seriously than others. It should be a time to bring us together. It is not up to only the healthcare workers to battle this. They are doing an extraordinary job of trying to save lives, not just from COVID-19 but also cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and more. But it’s not their job to stop the spread. It is my job. Your job. EVERYONE’s jobs. It is time to take responsibility for actions.

Simple actions to help others

My 9-year old niece is heartbroken she can’t go to school in-person. Wearing a mask is no big deal to her (most children seem to have this attitude). She doesn’t understand why some people aren’t willing to work together. I apologized to her for the behavior of too many adults. Because it’s up to us adults to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The complaining gets tiresome – when there is no willingness to be part of the solution. So before we continue the complaints, arguing and refusal to participate in slowing the spread, ask yourself how you can help.

I agree that we have to open schools, help small businesses, increase job availability, ease pressure on our frontline workers, provide relief in a variety of ways and much more. I also believe that it starts with containing/stopping the spread of the virus.

It honestly seems simple to me: Want kids to go back to school? Support businesses? Help people’s mental health? Travel, go to concerts, sporting events and more? How about save a life (maybe yours or someone you love)? Then help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Some tips to help stop the spread of COVID-19:

So many fun mask patterns!
Wear a mask.

Please wear your mask over your mouth AND nose. Studies show that wearing a mask protects you AND others from spreading COVID-19 (and other airborne viruses like the flu). [Some other reasons to wear a mask.] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides lots of information on choosing, wearing and cleaning masks, as well as many other helpful tips and facts relating to COVID-19. The good news is there are many fun patterns available for masks. Personalize yours!

Contact your state and federal representatives to ask what their plan is to slow the spread and provide assistance.

The federal response has been minimal and messy. In Michigan, our Governor and health department are making efforts through mask mandates and restrictions. It’s a rough time for businesses but Michigan’s state legislators have done nothing. I reached out to my state reps wondering their plan to stop the spread but no solid plans. Citizens depend on our elected officials to protect us, including our health and economies. It’s their jobs. I encourage you to let your representatives know that it’s time to step up, stop the partisan bickering and DO something to help stop the spread and provide assistance.

Social distance.

Social distancing, or physical distancing, provides a safe zone between you and people not in your household. Put at least six feet between you and others, more if you able to. There are a surprising number of creative social distance activities.

Be thoughtful about gatherings.

If you are going to a gathering, spread out and stay outdoors. If you can’t, wear a mask, especially indoors. Space out, avoid physical contact, wash your hands/use hand sanitizer as needed. The hard truth is that the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. Here are some tips from the CDC for social activities/gatherings.

I completely understand how much it sucks not spending in-person time with family and friends. The disappointments of canceled trips, parties, special occasions. It’s been incredibly difficult not seeing my family as often as we usually do, especially during holidays. I’m grateful I found outdoor, socially distanced ways to spend precious time with my family and a few friends during Michigan’s warmer months, but unfortunately not very often. And now that our cold winter is here, we’re stuck with virtual visits (or bundling up for crisp, socially distanced walks or bonfires). But we’re choosing to be safe.

Ask where people have been and who they’re hanging out with.

In a ‘normal’ world, I really don’t care who my family and friends are hanging out with. Probably don’t want to know, haha. During the pandemic, I care a lot. Ask questions, especially of people ‘in your bubble.’ And be honest with those you may hang out with so they can make their own informed decision.

Spread support, not complaints.

Before you share news stories, memes, anything, check the source and facts. And even then, ask yourself if sharing will spread complaints and unrest or actually help others learn, etc. This article shares how to not spread misinformation.

This pandemic has affected societies around the world. Some much harder than others. We ALL have a duty to help stop the spread. We will get through this. Remember that we are better together. Spread kindness, not COVID.

And please remember: Stay home if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (symptoms of COVID-19) , you are waiting for COVID-19 test results, or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

*Any information shared here is not meant as medical information or advice. Please contact your healthcare provider, health department or CDC with questions or concerns relating to COVID-19 or any health concerns.

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