It’s that time of year again where the perfect Fall temperatures slip away and we brace ourselves for a cold winter. We all know this also means germs will spread faster leading to many of us feeling under the weather with illnesses ranging from the common cold to the flu. In past years, the general rule was that we keep a distance from others and try to not touch our faces when around people who are sick. We all know this year everything is different, and this is only the beginning.
As with many things during this unusual time, we find out we are not prepared for certain situations until we are facing them head on. With the COVID-19 pandemic becoming increasingly more intense for the United States in the beginning of cold and flu season, it is extremely difficult to go about our normal lives when we have a little sniffle or a sore throat. Have you been in public recently and seen how people react when someone sneezes or coughs? It’s no surprise that most of us are afraid of contracting COVID-19 but we are also experiencing many different strains of the cold and flu. However, it seems there is no difference between the common cold symptoms and COVID-19 when someone is in a public setting.
Do you remember the old days where you would wake up and have a burning sore throat and runny nose but still need to go to work or school? It’s hard to imagine that we were once in a world where we could be sitting next to a coworker who is constantly sneezing and blowing their nose… without a mask! We now are required in almost every situation to stay home with even the slightest onset of any symptoms.
Last week, I woke up one day with a sore throat and runny nose and immediately became concerned that I might have been exposed to COVID-19 and unknowingly infected the family members living in my household. I stayed home for two days until my COVID-19 test and then the following two days until I got my negative result. Although it only took about four days to realize I didn’t have COVID-19, I still spent that time wondering how many people I could have potentially infected in the days leading up to my symptoms. Many of us interact with coworkers, family members and other people that don’t live with us and there are multiple chances for exposure. Even with a negative result, it’s difficult to feel like I am not seen as a threat just because of my lingering sniffle.
Our world has surely changed due to the COVID-19 outbreak to the point where hospitals have become overwhelmed and don’t have room for patients who need care unrelated to the pandemic. Many surgeries that are considered “elective” are being canceled or postponed in order to prioritize COVID-19 patients and to minimize the risk of exposure for patients. It seems as though we don’t know enough about the pandemic to properly educate citizens about what is safe for them to do and what isn’t. It seems as though entering flu season is only going to intensify these concerns and questions, making it even harder for us to stay healthy and safe.
All I hope for is that we can take care of eachother and understand that our health and safety should matter over everything else. As difficult as it was for me to stay home when I didn’t feel well, I knew it was the best thing I could do to protect those around me. It isn’t worth it to put others at risk when we can do our part by staying home. Just think back to those days where you were stuck at work feeling so sick and couldn’t go home. Now you can save lives just by staying home and most likely someone will thank you for doing so.