Breathe, Mama. You have my permission to breathe. When motherhood comes knocking, you suddenly develop a million phobias. The last thing you need to worry about is a worldwide pandemic with rumored zombie apocalypse-type ramifications.
Now, I’m no expert. I don’t have any medical background. I haven’t poured over CDC reports and scientific journals. But I am a mom. I work in a school. And I do consider myself a relatively level-headed individual. So I find it critical to not ignore things like this. But let’s use some calm, unbiased common sense to examine the implications of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) hitting our shores, shall we? Because it’s here. And it will impact our families in some ways. But just like when your toddler falls down, panic usually makes things worse.
For your convenience, I’ve compiled my three main thoughts to consider while the media exaggerations, mixed with a healthy dose of sci-fi thrillers and prime-time television, swirl around us unchecked. So grab a coffee, take a deep breath, and let’s dive in.
Three things that PROBABLY WILL NOT happen if the Coronavirus impacts your community:
- They probably will not shut down your entire city for months, restricting all movement outside your home by welding your doors shut or patrolling the streets with guns. Did it happen in the Peoples’ Republic of China where they have a heavily controlled healthcare system, tightly censored media, and billions of people living on top of each other like ants? Yes. Yes it did. But this is not China.
- We probably will not be living Oregon-Trail-Style either with no running water, working electricity, or means of communication for weeks or months or years. That makes for great television, but could it really happen in 2020 in the United States of America? Can we think logically about the infrastructure that would have to break down for that to occur? The massive number of cases in such a concentrated location over such a lengthy amount of time that would elicit an impact of that magnitude? I don’t believe so. Buy some extra groceries, stock up on a few basics, let’s tackle this thing one day at a time, but please…don’t buy all the toilet paper.
- You probably will not contract this virus*, and if you do, you probably will not die from it. That’s not to say you won’t! But to use the old cliché, “You have a better chance of dying in a car accident on your way to work than dying from [the Coronavirus]”. That doesn’t stop most people from getting in a car every morning, but it should keep you from freaking out now. Please practice good hygiene, and for goodness’ sake…stay home if you’re sick.
- Certain businesses might close for a time. Schools and daycares, along with very busy places that lend themselves to the exposure of germs and bodily fluids may be the first. Think trampoline parks, gyms, and workout centers. There may be postponements or cancellations of crowded events like concerts or festivals. There could be travel restrictions and extra health screenings. In concentrated cases, there might even be some temporary closings of restaurants and stores just to discourage people from going out. Please remember that this is for your safety and plan accordingly.
- People might choose to be more cautious of public places, preferring Click List or online shopping over venturing out to the stores. You might not get as many RSVPs for that birthday party. Businesses and workplaces might take the CDC’s advice, dust off their “what to do in a pandemic” manual, and take extra measures to train employees on proper health and hygiene. Hey, you might even see a new flexibility in regard to remote working and sick day allowances.
- You might see a slight economic decline. The more people stay home (whether out of regulation or out of fear) instead of going out shopping, eating, or working, the more likely there is to be a temporary economic recession. It may do you well to discuss these implications with your spouse, family, boss, or financial advisor. Plan now for how a slow-down may impact your finances, and act accordingly. Don’t overreact, but don’t be stupid either. Prepare to do less…and prepare to do with less.
- Your community will definitely become more aware of the importance of health, hygiene, and safety and how they impact everyone. Hopefully there will be a lean towards teamwork, flexibility, and what is best for the greater good.
- You will definitely be responsible for making decisions about what is best for your family. That might mean you don’t sign up for soccer this spring. Or maybe you keep your child home from school for symptoms that you normally wouldn’t worry about. YOu may need to cancel that Spring Break trip. Or perhaps do more Facetiming with Grandma rather than visiting her in person. Whatever it is, it will be up to you to do what is best. You will need to make wise, well-informed decisions based on common sense…not fear. And if you do decide to stay home, enjoy it! Make it a memorable time with your family, not a time of staring at reports and media hysteria all day.
- There will definitely be those who have legitimate reasons to fear — residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, those with compromised immune systems and underlying health concerns, plus men and women in the field of healthcare. These are the same people whom we limit contact with when the flu abounds or when we have a fever or green snot. Be kind. Be respectful. Don’t put others at risk if you don’t have to.
The Coronavirus is on our shores, but that does not mean it needs to rule our lives. Just like every cold/flu season and big ’80s hair, this too shall pass and hopefully we will be stronger, wiser Mommas on the other side.
For more information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) visit the CDC webpage: http://www.cdc.gov
*Current CDC Risk Assessment (updated February 29, 2020):
- For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
- People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated though still relatively low risk of exposure.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.