Spread Love & Learning—Not Panic & Fake News

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words by Maggie Buchmann

With the government releasing new information all the time and a 24-hour news cycle, it can be difficult to make decisions about the best course of action to take (or not take) during the coronavirus outbreak— especially when there’s so much data, advice, and reports flying around. 

We can no longer go about living our lives with any sense of normalcy; the only thing we know for certain is that the future is uncertain. Please remember that you are not alone in your anxiety, and that this pandemic is affecting everyone, everywhere, in every way. 

Viruses spread quickly, but so does panic, fake news, ableism, and xenophobia. At the same time, education, empathy, kindness, and joy can spread just as easily. It is up to us as individuals to positively impact our community as we deal with these sweeping global issues. This international health crisis has placed a  magnifying glass on society’s long-standing systems, and while there are flaws, there is also an opportunity to get back to the basics and learn from one another in our time of need. 

This international health crisis has placed a  magnifying glass on society’s long-standing systems, and while there are flaws, there is also an opportunity to get back to the basics and learn from one another in our time of need. 

That means taking care of your health and wellbeing first so that you’re able to help those around you. Self-care and mindfulness often get the backseat during times of crisis. Consider this our gentle reminder that it really is the little things that matter—a shift in judgement, a new perspective, and ultimately being aware of the situation sets you up in preparation for the worst (which also means different things to different people). 

We’ve gathered a few articles that serve as reminders that the coronavirus may be spreading more than a cough, but it’s our responsibility to either fuel the fire or douse the flames. 


PRACTICE EMPATHY

You may not be concerned about contracting COVID-19 because you’re young and healthy without any health issues. But others are at “higher risk” than others, including older adults, people with chronic medical conditions, those with a compromised immune system, and those without access to any medical help or financial resources. Please keep these individuals in mind as you come into direct or indirect contact with them, regardless of if you’re showing symptoms or not. Remember: the incubation period can take up to 14 days so you may unknowingly be contributing to the spread of the virus.

For those less at risk and in the position to help, here are six ways you can support the most vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.


BE AWARE OF (YOUR) ABLEISM

Making light of dire situations is a natural and normal coping method. But it can be frustrating—and even triggering—to those living with chronic illness or disability to be constantly reminded that situations they live with every day are considered grim by others. 

Caroline Reilly of Bitch Media writes, “There’s also an inherent ableism—and, quite frankly, selfishness—in able-bodied people complaining about having to work from home or, even worse, going to work when they’re feeling sick. People with chronic illness or disabilities are used to sacrificing work and socializing for our health; we know it’s frustrating. But when you decide to disobey directives and protocols from health officials, you’re not considering the health of those who are most at risk of both contracting and dying from coronavirus.” Read the full article here


ADDRESS RACISM & XENOPHOBIA

Coronavirus doesn't care about your race, ethnicity or religion. It doesn't note the color of your skin or the texture of your hair. It traverses borders, and is only amplifying racism and xenophobia still present in society. Read how to stop the spread of racism during the coronavirus outbreak and find more resources to help counter stigma and racism during this time of high anxiety. 


EDUCATE YOURSELF (RESPONSIBLY)

The epidemic’s disparate impact on the rich and poor, city and country, is a reality the entire world is forced to confront. Whether we like it or not, we’ve entered a moment of online education, which is a blessing for some, but an obstacle for those who lack the means for a screen device and internet connection. Please recognize that if you are reading this, you are better off than many others and express gratitude for the resources (and people) you do have. 

Please recognize that if you are reading this, you are better off than many others and express gratitude for the resources (and people) you do have. 

It’s also extremely important to be aware and vigilant, but it’s not time to panic. Take everything that you read about COVID-19 with a grain of salt. The news being covered on the WHO and CDC should be taken seriously, but not so much your coworker’s cousin’s best friend’s opinion.

Get the whole story from multiple credible sources before panicking or making any rash decisions. Pause and decide if it’s a valid concern from a valid source. We know it’s difficult to separate from what is real and what is possibly real, but creating imaginary scenarios in your head will only exacerbate the problem. 


EMBRACE NATURE’S REMEDIES (SAFELY)

Personal and environmental hygiene is of utmost importance during this time. It’s been drilled into our heads to wash our hands! Don’t touch your face! Maintain distance from others! And while proper sanitation and social distancing is imperative, nature can offer its own medicine. It's important to unplug, turn off the news, and take a break. Fresh air—even if it’s only out your  window—will help refresh your mind and body. Learn how sunlight and fresh air i.e. open air therapy can help in not only preventing but treating viral infections—but also keep washing those hands. 

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