With so much information sent out into the ether, it can be hard to determine fact from fiction. For some, panic is their new normal. For others, living worry-free is their preferred modus operandi. It doesn’t help that everyone is connected to a device or knows someone who knows someone who may have heard of someone who might have come into contact with someone diagnosed with the virus.

If that happens, what should you do? What are your risk factors?

Coronavirus, Covid-19

This article is designed to help you wade through the half-truths, ill-informed thought processes, outright bad information, and help you find the nuggets of truth that could potentially save your life at the extreme and at minimum prevent you from exposure or inadvertently exposing someone else.

As cases rise around the globe, governments almost everywhere have bandied together to try to contain further risk to their respective population.

Here are the facts:

• You can and will be exposed. You probably have been several times in your life. Except this time, this particular strain is inexplicably (to date) more dangerous.

• It presents with symptoms similar to the common cold or flu, but it takes those symptoms to a deeper level; thus, much riskier.

• It is viral, meaning to date, there is no antibiotic to give you to “cure” it. The best we can do is avoid exposure or treat the underlying symptoms before they progress.

• Test kits are available – but there’s a caveat – they’re not as available as community leaders, government officials, medical professionals, and those at risk at contracting it, would like.

• It is respiratory in nature, therefore, it is incredibly dangerous for certain demographics like the elderly (60+ years of age), those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, lupus, asthma, and other comorbidities, and for first responders like medical professionals because of the amount of exposure.

What do you need to do to minimize your risk?

• It’s been said countless times, but it can’t be said enough. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with antibacterial soap. Use warm water, lather, rinse, repeat for a minimum of 20 seconds.

• Don’t touch your face. This heightens the risk of contamination.

• If you’re sick, stay home. No excuses. People’s lives are at stake.

• Cough into the crook of your elbow.

• Sneeze into a tissue to prevent spraying. Throw the tissue away as soon as you’re done. Wash your hands.

• Avoid large gatherings of people.

• Use hand sanitizers, sanitizing cloths on hard surfaces, products like Lysol.

• If you fear you’ve been exposed, don’t flood your doctor’s office or emergency rooms, call your doctor. Ask them how you should proceed.

• Self-quarantine for at least 14 days if you fear you’ve been exposed to the virus. Again, check with your medical provider first.

• Drink plenty of fluids.

• Follow the advice on coronavirus.gov and check with your local health officials for updates. This is an ongoing global crisis. Information changes quickly. Stay up to date. Don’t panic. Limit your exposure. Look out for those you love. Take the necessary precautions. Don’t buy out entire store shelves. Buy what you need and leave some for others who may need it more. Wash your Hands.

By Ava Mallory