2020 is only a little over halfway done, and it has already fundamentally changed the way we live our lives as a global community. Communities have closed off, hospitals fill up, and the impact on our society and several facets of it: education, economy, and the public health issues that are at the forefront- are still unfolding before our eyes.
We are living in one of the most uncertain times in all of recent human history. The global landscape has shifted, and continues to shift in a direction we have never seen before. While everything is up in the air and we continue to live in a time of uncertainty, not everything has to be left in the unknown.
In changing times, we are afforded a sense of clarity as we step back and stay inside, and we can reflect on the things our eyes have been opened to: including the dangers we were once blind to.
COVID-19: What we know
From what we know for sure about COVID-19, it is a virus that transmits from person to person contact, through the spread of respiratory droplets that are expelled when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs. When these droplets come into contact with a person’s mouths, noses, or even inhaled- even by those a small distance away- the chances of contracting COVID-19 become greater for a non-infected person.
The greatest factor in COVID-19 spread is the phenomena referred to as ‘community spread’- which means a small number of infected in one area, without contact tracing, and without proper social distancing measures, will be the reason for a wider spread in one community.
So far, the best measures against community spread have been contact tracing and social distancing, as well as an enforced community quarantine that is observed by all in the community for the benefit of all.
With no definite cure or vaccine in the horizon, unity and community well-being at the forefront is our best measure against further spreading COVID-19.
Threats in plain sight
Before the pandemic, we lived very differently. A majority of people were not as aware of things like personal hygiene, public sanitation and even the concept of personal space. Some of us might not have been in the habit of washing our hands before every meal, or coming back home from being outside. Some of us probably did not think twice before entering a very crowded space for a quick errand.
In the earlier months of the year, before COVID-19 became this grim spectre hanging over the global community’s collective heads, some countries were going about their daily lives while implementing the most basic of personal hygiene measures and preventative methods of germ spread. Minimal, more personal methods- alcohol use, personal sanitizer bottles, relaxed mask wearing- were the standard before the worst of the pandemic hit.
In the first few weeks after the World Health Organization finally dubbed the mystery respiratory illness- now known as COVID-19- one of the first things that started to fly right off supermarket shelves were alcohols, sanitizers and disinfectants.
People became acutely aware of the existence of germs and the smallest virus particles and reacted almost violently: buying out every kind of sanitizer and disinfectant. Now, no one will look twice at a person pulling out some sanitizer or a tiny bottle of alcohol after handling a door or any publicly available surface.
With people having become aware of the possibility of bacteria or virus spread from contact on surfaces, there is now a concentrated effort to maintain personal cleanliness through constant handwashing and a heightened awareness of personal hygiene.
Sanitation of public spaces
Before the pandemic, we might not have thought twice about going to a mall or a restaurant that might not have publicly claimed to be sanitized as thoroughly as they would be now.
As with the heightened caution of individual citizens in the time of COVID-19, businesses and those that operate public spaces have taken the same higher precautions to ensure public safety.
More and more, business owners have invested more time and effort into ensuring their places of business stay sanitized and safe for business, not just for their customers, but for their employees and partners as well. We are seeing more businesses deep-cleaning and sanitizing in recent days, hiring professional cleaning crews to completely sanitize their places of business. Some countries and cities require this procedure, but some implement it for their customers' peace of mind and as an added measure against COVID-19.
Awareness of personal space in public spaces
If you live or work in a city, you are no stranger to crowds of people. You would be very familiar with the scenario of finding yourself in a crowded train, pushed up against strangers while you swayed as a group until the next stop. You could go to a grocery in the beginning of the week and be among a huge group of people with the same idea, pushing your cart along a crowded aisle.
The situations were just a regular occurrence for everyone before the pandemic shifted the global attitude towards being in crowded places. Now, you would be hard pressed to find anyone willing to even stand around in a shop or restaurant with more than ten people. With the threat of COVID-19 transmission, people are more wary than ever to share a space with strangers.
Standard social distancing rules enforce a distance of six feet between persons in public spaces. As the pandemic continues with transmission being as unpredictable as it is, people are no longer comfortable being close together outside their homes.
Caring for those with pre-existing conditions
For those of us with loved ones that live with a pre-existing condition like diabetes or cancer, COVID-19 has been particularly more difficult. Some people with illnesses and conditions may need constant palliative care, a service which is more and more becoming a luxury in a time where medical practitioners focus their efforts on beating back the pandemic.
However, for those with conditions that compromise their immune systems or undergoing treatment for illnesses that leaves their body vulnerable- for example, mesothelioma- there is an unexpected silver lining in quarantine. Now that people have become more aware of hygiene and cleanliness, there is a sense of safety among those with immunocompromised bodies in the directive to stay home and stay indoors.
For information on dealing with COVID-19 and its effect on those with mesothelioma specifically, please visit survivingmesothelioma.com/mesothelioma
Conclusion As we navigate this unprecedented global shift, we’ve seen things change right before our eyes- some irreversibly. But as long as we arm ourselves with information, stay updated and stay vigilant in our personal safety and in misinformation, we stand a chance of coming out stronger than eve