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Maintaining Physical & Mental Health During Coronavirus

(THE CONVERSATION) Michiganders are asking for clear, comprehensive information and guidelines regarding the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, the public hasn't received factual information or future direction from the federal government. Instead, the government has underreported cases and local transmission rates due to a lack of testing kits.
But during a crisis, leadership can come from unexpected places.
As he suspended all NBA games, commissioner Adam Silver delivered a powerful message to the public that the outbreak must be taken seriously. With that single announcement, Silver enforced more effective public health policy than the White House has during this pandemic. Shortly thereafter, all other major sports leagues including the Detroit Pistons followed his lead; the NBA's decisive action helped the dominoes fall.
Divisional Round - Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 12: Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks looks on before the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)


Last January, NFL running back Marshawn Lynch delivered solid advice for his younger colleagues in a post-game interview: take care of your bodies, your mentals, and your chicken (that is, your money). Fortuitously, this is also applicable for everyone during COVID-19.
While the elderly and people with respiratory conditions are at highest risk, severe cases have also been reported in young, otherwise healthy people. Without behavioral interventions, so many patients will require hospitalization, they will exceed the capacity of the U.S. health care system. This will cause preventable deaths.
A woman wearing a face mask, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, walks at Moscow's Kazansky railway station on March 20, 2020. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP) (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)


Reducing overall transmission will protect the most vulnerable members of our Michigan communities and keep the health care system functioning. You are no longer making decisions for only yourself, you have to constantly consider how your personal behavior is going to impact everyone around you and everyone around them.
You need space, but you also need connection.
So far, no pharmaceutical interventions, such as vaccines and antiviral drugs, exist. At the moment, we must rely on basic public health measures: wash your hands frequently, don't touch your face, use hand sanitizer, and limit your exposure to others. It may sound simplistic, but those things are enormously helpful. Non-pharmaceutical interventions are extremely effective against infectious diseases; all Ebola epidemics prior to 2014 are just one example.
People wearing face masks, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, wait at Moscow's Kazansky railway station on March 20, 2020. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP) (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)


Right now, this means avoiding direct physical contact with others. Avoid crowds, currently groups over 10, reduce or eliminate non-essential travel, and expand the space between you and others to practice social distancing. Give yourself about 6 feet of space. But if you're not feeling sick, you don't have to become sedentary or trapped indoors. Go for a walk, dance around your house, or tune into on-demand fitness or YouTube instructors. If you think you're getting sick (or if you're already sick) you need to stay home and keep away from others. Self-quarantine is a good idea anytime you think you have an infectious disease.
Social distancing is actually physical distancing; it does not mean social isolation. During this outbreak, your mental health is critical and vulnerable right now. Social support helps and is also linked to physical health. It's all connected.
Make deliberate efforts to be in touch with family, friends, or colleagues/classmates who are now telecommuting. Any kind of direct communication will be supportive: email, texts, video chats, even voice calls, if that's your thing. It's likely someone you know will end up in quarantine or isolation for 14 days, and it will be psychologically challenging. Help them, but don't take on all the responsibility.
US Charity Builds Field Hospital In Cremona To Assist With Coronavirus Treatment
CREMONA, ITALY - MARCH 20: A nurse stands inside a tent with stocked medical supplies at a Samaritan's Purse Emergency Field Hospital on March 20, 2020 in Cremona, near Milan, Italy. Samaritan's Purse is an evangelical Christian organization working in crisis areas of the world; thanks to a 68-bed respiratory unit, 32 members of Samaritan's Purse disaster response team will provide medical care during the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)


Create a schedule to have a different friend or relative check in with them. Also note that social media can have negative impacts on mental health. Don't assume Instagram puppies will keep your quarantined friends fully supported.
Missing travel or events you've been excited about will bring disappointment. It's OK to feel sad about losses that seem trivial right now. The endless stream of news, with rapidly changing information and misinformation, can be overwhelming. The lack of a large-scale management plan from the government might leave you frustrated. Take a moment to acknowledge those feelings of insecurity. Now more than ever, don't face your anxiety alone.
We're in this together.
Year 11 pupils, some with graffiti-covered shirts reading 'Survivor 2020' and 'Class of Corona 2020' react as they leave a secondary school in Odiham, west of London on March 20, 2020, as schools begin to close following the UK government's announcement that they would close due to the coronavirus pandemic. - British schools close indefinitely on Friday as part of tougher government measures to stem the coronavirus pandemic, following similar shutdowns in Europe and across the world. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had resisted the move, fearing its impact on the workforce, but changed course as the COVID-19 outbreak worsened across Britain. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)


Finally, the meaty part of all this: Don't blow your paycheck stockpiling months of food and supplies. Don't panic and buy every possible over-the-counter drug. Buy what you need and leave the rest for others.
It is a good idea to check your prescription medications and make sure you've got a month's supply on hand. Assess the shelf-stable foods you have. You may own enough unexpired cans and products to get you through several days. Aim to have two to four weeks of non-perishables around so you don't have to shop frequently and base your decisions on what you can safely spend and store.
Since this outbreak began, the federal government has fumbled response and preparedness. Conversely, local government officials set precedents to eliminate costs for testing and treatment. New York, Washington and California led the way, announcing free testing early.
Democratic Candidates Push to Flip House Seats From Republicans In California
TUSTIN, CA - OCTOBER 22: Democratic congressional candidate Katie Porter (CA-45) speaks at a campaign town hall in Orange County on October 22, 2018 in Tustin, California. Porter is competing for the seat against Republican incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters. Democrats are targeting seven congressional seats in California, currently held by Republicans, where Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. These districts have become the centerpiece of their strategy to flip the House and represent nearly one-third of the 23 seats needed for the Democrats to take control of the chamber in the November 6 midterm elections. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)


On March 12, Rep. Katie Porter pressed the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to finally deliver a long-overdue "guarantee" of free coronavirus testing for every American. We don't know how this will roll out operationally, given the shortage of test kits, but the importance of free testing cannot be overstated. People don't get tested if they're worried about costs. And that's a huge problem: Unreported or mild cases lead to transmission that is nearly impossible to stop.
Employers also need to encourage and reward responsible self-quarantining behavior. Paid sick leave would vastly improve compliance with self-quarantine measures. A system where sick days translate to lost wages promotes virus transmission.
A man remains on an empty subway in Buenos Aires, on March 20, 2020. - Argentine President Alberto Fernandez on Thursday announced a "preventative and compulsory" lockdown of the population from Friday to March 31 to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP) (Photo by RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)


This outbreak will continue to change our lives. We will not go back to the way things were in two weeks. We are looking ahead to a new normal. To protect the most vulnerable members of our communities, the less vulnerable must make responsible and unselfish choices. The necessary interventions to manage this outbreak have been unprecedented and sometimes unpopular but necessary. Marshawn Lynch wisely instructed us to protect our bodies, our mentals, and our chicken. Now it's our responsibility to extend that to protecting each other.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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