COVID-19 and the ‘Vulnerables’

Let me say that while there is a critical need for all of us to remain calm as we seek to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to preserve, to restore the health and safety of ourselves, our families, our communities, our nation, and yes, the world, there is a corresponding responsibility for each of us to carry out our civic duty by doing everything we possibly can to flatten the curve.

We are ALL vulnerable to COVID-19. Because our immune systems have NEVER been exposed to this novel form of Coronavirus, none of us have antibodies against it, and despite the well televised injection of the first dose of a phase I clinical trial, there is no vaccine nor will there be any time soon.

We, the American people, are our only defense. May we make wise choices and take right actions such that we do not become our own worst enemies. The cost is high; the cost is life and breath.

This virus is now spreading person to person. It is believed to have an incubation period of up to 14 days during which symptoms can occur at any time, and infected individuals can spread the virus during the incubation period even if they do not have symptoms. The virus can ‘hang’ in the air for hours and is viable on surfaces for days.

We would do well to optimize our nutrition, get adequate sleep and rest, exercise/stretch regularly (at home), and remain socially connected via old school phone calls, text messages, FaceTime and screen to screen video conferencing services to the best of their ability. We would also, do well to ask for help when needed and offer a hand when/if we are able.

The truth is we are only protected to the degree that we, as individuals, and our communities are committed to abiding by the most up to date recommendations from the experts in infectious outbreak situations like the CDC, those in the infectious disease world like Anthony Fauci, MD, and the experts serving as part of the COVID-19 Task Force.

Another important truth to consider is there are some among us who are more vulnerable than others. For example, the elderly (especially those in nursing homes or assisted living), pregnant women, the homeless, those with significant underlying health conditions (heart disease, lung disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, solid organ transplant, and anyone who is immune compromised for any reason). We rub elbows with these individuals every single day: the ‘vulnerables’.

I am a ‘vulnerable’ which is a terrifying category to fall into during a time like this; more on that another day.

If you encountered me within my local community, you would likely NEVER guess that I am a heavily treated childhood cancer survivor living with 25% of what is considered normal lung function, AND an immune compromised heart transplant patient.

My external appearance doesn’t reflect the internal reality of my body’s limited ability to fend off the respiratory illness that can result from COVID-19 without potentially intensive support.

It has been estimated that we, the vulnerables, are 2 times more likely to contract COVID-19 if exposed and far more likely than our healthy counterparts to encounter potentially life-threatening complications if infected with COVID-19.

We, the vulnerables, NEED you, the strongest and healthiest among us, to join us in our vigilance regarding matters such as ‘sheltering at home’ and ‘social distancing’ including:

  • staying home except to go for food and medicine
  • working from home
  • canceling non-essential travel
  • living with the temporary inconvenience of self quarantine
  • distancing yourself from others
  • exercising complete honesty when asked about recent travel and contacts you may have exposed to the virus
  • practicing frequent and proper hand hygiene and cough/sneeze etiquette

I, we thank you in advance for showing up and standing with us to help flatten the curve here in the United States.

Be well!

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