The spread of the new coronavirus has affected people all over the world, and state and local governments are taking sweeping actions to halt the spread of the disease.
However, the new coronavirus still affects people in several ways: family relationships, economic effects, social isolation, health related behaviors, disruption to essential services, disrupted education, transport and green space, social disorder, and psychosocial effects.
That is why we reached out to 12 experts and asked them the following question:
What advice do you have to mitigate the effects of coronavirus on people?
Keep reading to see what advice they shared with us.
Donna Hallas | NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing
We are not out of the ‘COVID-19’ woods yet. We must stay focused while on the trail to find a safe way out. While on the trail we have been dealing with tremendous stress and loss: the deaths of loved ones, a nation grieving the loss of over 500,000 individuals, COVID-19 illness that ranges from mild to severe and some with long lasting symptoms – the long haulers- with unknown long term outcomes. Our hope has been on maintaining public health measures and now a COVID-19 vaccine. To emerge safely from the woods, Everyone must take the vaccine AND fight the urge to stop public health safety measures too soon. Wearing masks has been life saving as evidenced by the significant reduction of influenza nationwide during this COVID pandemic. To achieve the goal of living and thriving in the ‘new normal’ whatever that may be, assuming responsibility for protecting yourself and those with whom you interact, including individuals you don’t know just ‘walking by on the trails’ it is essential to take the vaccine, wear masks until it is scientifically safe to remove them, and support and respect one another.
Philip Warburg | Boston University
As we move toward a lifting of the pandemic’s pall, how quickly will our rediscovered embrace of localism, of appreciating the outdoors just footsteps outside our homes, yield to jet flights overhead carrying cabin-fevered travelers to sites more distant, though not necessarily more wondrous, than the intimate signs of nature that took charge of our backyards and neighborhood parks? Last spring a chorus of birds and chatter of squirrels filled a vacuum created by human tragedy. This spring, as we reawaken, let’s hold fast to some of that calm.
John Thatamanil | Union Theological Seminary
Despite significant pockets of resistance and denialism, we have learned together that human beings are capable of taking drastic measures at a planetary level to meet a global threat. We can, on a dime, close up shop, close borders, and quarantine at home, and completely reorder our work lives. It hasn’t been easy, but we managed to do it, albeit imperfectly. We have learned that the human species does have the capacity to act together on a planetary level to avert even greater mass casualties.
The lessons we are learning by meeting the COVID threat must now be practiced and augmented. This is but the first of many shocks to the system that loom before us in this still young century. Our response to COVID is teaching us what Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to tell us more than fifty years ago: “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Our response to COVID suggests that we just might have the capacity both to avoid perishing together and preserve the natural world that we so deeply love. Let us learn to trust that we are indeed capable of saving ourselves and the planet from the worst case scenarios that loom before us.
Enieda Roldan | Florida International University in Miami, FL
The best advice to mitigate COVID-19 is personal responsibility by educating yourself on scientific evidenced -based information and not anecdotal information or myths.
There is a reason why the goal of the scientific method is to prove a hypothesis ( explanation or speculation) via a rigorous process.
To follow the following steps at every junction of potential viral impact is key to reduce morbidity and mortality. These include:
- prevention ( compliance to public health measures: masks, distancing, hand washing, etc)
- screening ( testing frequently to capture potential clusters and reduce further spread)
- therapeutics ( if affected, get treated immediately) and finally
- immunity ( protect yourself to protect others through herd immunity: vaccination).
The most important is PREVENTION!
Brandon Dionne | Northeastern University
The most important thing that we can do to help prevent the worst outcomes from COVID-19 is to receive the vaccine as soon as it is available to us. While we are working towards herd immunity with vaccines, it is crucial to continue to use other preventive measures such as social distancing, masks, and good hand hygiene to help reduce transmission of the virus. Try to avoid crowds, especially in indoor spaces, whenever possible. As more people receive the vaccine, we should be able to relax precautions, but we will need to continue to monitor local incidence and adjust measures accordingly.
Brian Labus | University of Nevada, Las Vegas
COVID-19 spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets. While it is easier said than done, the best way to avoid being infected is to avoid close contact with other people. Keeping your distance and wearing masks, and most importantly, getting vaccinated, will decrease your risk of becoming infected and developing disease. None of these things can completely eliminate your risk, but they all work together to reduce it. This is why being vaccinated does not allow you to ignore all the other public health guidance. Think of it like having airbags in your car. You can’t rely on them alone to protect you – you still have to wear a seatbelt and drive carefully.
Sharona Hoffman | Case Western Reserve University
The most important thing right now is for everyone to get vaccinated when they become eligible. We need to achieve herd immunity in order to end the pandemic, and vaccination is the key to doing that. In the meantime, it is also extremely important for people to continue to wear masks, social distance, and follow the advice of public health experts. It has been a very long year, and everyone is experiencing COVID fatigue. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the end may well be in sight. We don’t want to reverse our progress because people become lax and stop being responsible and cautious.
Andrew Coggins | Pace University
In spite of the recent good news, COVID-19 is very much alive and well, both in and outside of the United States. Whether traveling or not, the best ways to mitigate the effects and reduce one’s chances of catching the virus are:
- Wear a mask – protects both you and those in contact with you
- Wash your hands – minimizes virus transmission from surfaces
- Maintain social distance – reduces your chances of coming in contact with airborne particles from others
- Minimize your bubble – Remember, your bubble also includes everyone in the bubbles of the people in your bubble
- Get vaccinated when eligible
- Avoid crowds when possible
David Zonderman | NC State University
The coronavirus is rapidly reshaping some aspects of work and workers’ lives in the US. It is laying bare many of the inequities in wages and working conditions that have existed for decades, but are now more glaring than ever. Workers who are now considered “essential”–in our hospitals, restaurants, daycares–often remain grossly unpaid and subject to laboring in conditions that are now jeopardizing their health.
One potential bright spot for these workers, and others, is that we are having more of a national conversation–from the White House and many other locales–about the minimum wage, respect for workers, the right to organize unions and collectively bargain. We still don’t know what life and labor will be like on the other side of this pandemic, but perhaps some of this new appreciation for our hard working essential workers will translate into better wages and working conditions, and a reinvigoration of our labor movement.
Marissa Levine | University of South Florida
I recommend people think very broadly about overall well-being when they consider how to minimize the impact of this pandemic. At the individual and population levels we must consider not only our physical health but also our emotional health, social well-being, spiritual well-being and economic/financial well-being.
At the individual level it starts with being in our best overall health prior to exposure to such a threat by taking good care of our physical and emotional health through efforts such as healthy nutrition, adequate sleep, avoiding toxic substances such as smoking, drugs and excessive alcohol use. But then be sure to consider the other dimensions of well-being such as developing and maintaining strong social networks and robust financial management and planning.
Similarly, decision makers should do the same. When leaders have to make decisions about a population of people, the decisions should be based on maximizing overall well-being for all people, not just some. This would require effective collaborative leadership with representation from multiple sectors as well as adequately connecting grass roots and jurisdictional leaders.
Martin Andersen | University of North Carolina at Greensboro
COVID-19 has interrupted all of our lives in pretty major ways and we all want to get back to doing our normal activities. But trying to do our normal activities too early will be a mistake and only prolong the pandemic. My best advice for trying to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on your life, right now, is to enjoy the good weather, take advantage of the outdoors, but do it safely. Even if you have been vaccinated it is really important to keep wearing masks, keep physically distancing from others, and limit travel. It’s ok to move around in your community (as long as you are wearing a mask and distancing), but long-distance travel is likely to the prolong the pandemic both for you and for others too.
Ahmad Khanijahani | Duquesne University
Given the infectious nature of COVID-19 and the airborne transmission, we need to know that one person’s problem is all humanities. Successful attempts to contain and control the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate negative consequences need collective action at local, national, and global levels. Numerous studies show that communities of color and disadvantaged neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 infections and deaths. Public health policymakers and practitioners need to factor in the neighborhood and residential characteristics in designing and implementing COVID-19 related policies and programs. One-size-fits-all intervention most likely will not be effective as the root causes of disparities might differ from one community or place to another.
Thank you so much to all the experts that have contributed to this expert roundup! We have confidence that travel will eventually resume and be as rewarding as ever. We just hope that begins to happen again sooner rather than later.
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