Tuesday April 7, 2020

Millions of Americans Fight Coronavirus by Staying at Home

Americans Stay Home to Fight COVID-19 Spread

Coronavirus home
California and New York residents have been ordered to stay home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Pixabay

Millions of Americans are under orders Saturday from their state and local governments to stay home, venturing out only for essential needs, including trips to pharmacies, supermarkets, and gas stations, and solo exercise.

California and New York residents have been ordered to stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, a disease that claims more victims every day. Illinois residents join in the stay-at-home strategy later Saturday.

Early Saturday morning the global count of infected cases was 275,452, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

New Jersey and Oregon will likely be the next U.S. states to order their residents to stay home as part of the fight against the virus that has disrupted the very fabric of life around the world.

Children no longer go to school, adults are either working from home or have been laid off from work.  Weddings and sports events have been canceled.  Millions of people in the U.S. have applied for unemployment insurance.  Places of worship are closed until further notice. Nothing is the same.

Medical and emergency workers who are on the front lines of the battle against the virus in the U.S. find themselves ill-equipped for the fight.  Their supply of weapons – masks and ventilators — that not only protect them, but their patients, too — is either gone or quickly diminishing.  They do not have tests either to determine who has the confounding virus that kills some people and is asymptomatic in others.  The government has been slow to act.

Cuba, whose economy depends heavily on tourism, said Friday it will not allow any foreign tourists to enter the country, beginning Tuesday.  The ban will be in effect for 30 days.

The drastic measure is being initiated in an effort to prevent any more COVID-19 cases, President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on state television. Cuba has reported at least 19 cases of the coronavirus and one death.

The South Korea Centers for Disease Control reported 147 new cases of the virus Saturday.  The Asian nation has 8,799 infections and 102 deaths attributed to the virus.

Coronavirus home
A message is seen on an electronic display inside a mostly empty 42nd Street subway station during the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, New York, U.S. VOA

More than 10,200 new cases were reported Friday in Europe, which World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this week had become the epicenter of the outbreak after cases began to wane in China, where the outbreak began.

Spanish officials warned Friday that the situation could soon overcome the country’s health care system. They announced plans to turn a Madrid conference center into a makeshift hospital. Earlier this week, a four-star inn in Madrid was converted into a hospital.

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Germany, another hard-hit country, is trying to increase the number of intensive care beds, which now total 28,000, by establishing temporary hospitals in hotels, rehabilitation clinics and other facilities. There are nearly 20,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany. Officials there say coronavirus could strike as many as 10 million Germans unless proper precautions are taken, including social distancing.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shut down dining establishments, bars and other leisure businesses. (VOA)

Next Story

The Effects of Social Distancing and Isolation

How Social Distancing Can Impact Your Mental Health

social distancing
Mental health of many people, especially extroverts has been affected due to social distancing. Pixabay

By Dora Mekouar

Social distancing and isolation can be hard, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently pointed out during a daily briefing on the status of COVID-19 in his state.

“Don’t underestimate the personal trauma, and don’t underestimate the pain of isolation. It is real,” Cuomo said. “This is not the human condition — not to be comforted, not to be close, to be afraid and you can’t hug someone. … This is all unnatural and disorienting.”  

social distancing
Playground equipment is wrapped in crime scene tape to prevent its use as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. VOA

Experts already know that years of loneliness or feelings of isolation can lead to anxiety, depression and dementia in adults. A weakened immune system response, higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and a shorter life span can also result.

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Children who have fewer friends or are bullied or isolated at school tend to have higher rates of anxiety, depression and some developmental delays.

But when it comes to a global pandemic like COVID-19, there is no documentation to which medical experts can refer.

social distancing
A man walks past a sign advistng social distancing at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. VOA

“The studies that we have are more about forced isolation and no support,” said Elena Mikalsen, chief of the Psychology Section at Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. “The situation we’re in now, there’s a lot of social support … and social support is one of the big predictors of good health and mental health outcomes.” 

She adds that it is helpful that the entire world is basically in the same situation, a commonality that is leading to the rapid development of coping strategies from multiple sources, including friends, schools and businesses.

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During this period, Mikalsen is advising her patients to stay connected with people,  exercise regularly, and keep to a schedule so that everybody in the household has some sort of purpose in their day. Waiting around and worrying about getting sick can lead to increased anxiety.

A key factor driving people’s decisions on whether to isolate could come down to personality.

social distancing
A Pittsburgh Public Works employee removes a basketball rim from a court on the Northside of Pittsburgh, Monday, March 30, 2020. The rims were removed because people were not following social distancing rules while using the courts over the weekend. VOA

“Extroverts have this strong need to always be around other people. … The idea of being in a quiet place with no entertainment is extremely anxiety provoking,”  Mikalsen said. 

“Versus, you know, an introvert is perfectly happy in a tiny little room with nothing. You can lock up an introvert in a New York City apartment and have them not come out for two months and they’ll be perfectly happy.”

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Meanwhile, Cuomo told reporters that he is focusing on the positives in the current situation, like having his grown daughter, Cara, 25, working with him during the crisis.

“They’ll come for the holidays. They’ll come when I give them heavy guilt,” he said of his three grown daughters. “But I’m now going to be with Cara, literally, for a few months. What a beautiful gift that is, right? I would have never had that chance, and that is precious. … This crazy situation, as crazy as it is, gave me this beautiful gift.”  (VOA)