Weekend Dish: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
Plagues have written our history books from the beginning. They have brought civilizations to their knees or cleared an entire continent for European expansion. Ancient viruses are buried in our DNA.
The word plague has several meanings: contagious and causing trouble.
Sometimes plagues seem like yet another malady that our unsophisticated ancestors faced. During World War I, my great-grandfather wore Asafoetida around his neck to ward off the mysterious killer later to be known as the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.
It is easy to look back in time and snicker at how silly and ignorant the people of history seemed. We certainly don’t have those kinds of problems today with our iPhones and Facebook. We’re so smart and modern, and we would never have to face those kinds of issues.
Yet today, in 2020, the world is facing another viral storm. As most of you hopefully know, a novel coronavirus identified as SARS CoV-2 is circulating the globe and is causing the COVID-19 disease. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that include SARS, MERS, and even some kinds of common cold. They usually start in animals such as bats and then transfer to other animals that can spread them to humans.
The last few months have seemed like a horror movie such as “Contagion.” SARS CoV-2 first emerged in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and has since gone on to become a global pandemic. Millions are quarantined, while entire nations have shut off to the outside world. There is much misinformation on the internet, and even some of the highest public officials seem confused or more concerned with stock performance.
We are told that it is already contained, or it’s “just the flu.” It is not just like the flu. The fatality rate of COVID-19 is many magnitudes higher than the flu, which kills thousands every year. The virus is not contained and should be taken seriously with informed, concrete steps of action.
As of this writing, there are 72 cases in Colorado. Many of those cases are in our backyards in Eagle and Pitkin counties. The storm is undoubtedly blowing in. Can’t you feel the chill in the wind?
Fear in these times is healthy, but this is not the time to panic. We can all still take steps to help mitigate the virus while ensuring our safety in the event of widespread quarantines. While we may think our ancestors were less informed and more superstitious, we can still fall victim to the same disinformation via memes shared by our grandmothers on Facebook.
Information is the weapon we need to win the war against the virus. Top organizations from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control to leading epidemiologists recommend simple steps to protect yourself and your family.
- Clean your hands often.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, then use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Do not touch your face. We all do it, but it’s one of the easiest ways for a virus to infect us.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or in the crook of your elbow.
- Stay home if you are sick, and maintain at least 20 feet of distance from those who appear sick.
As simple as these guidelines are, they can significantly slow down the advance of the virus. If you are feeling sick, then you should call your doctor ahead of time instead of coming in. Please be mindful of yourself and others in our shared community.
In the event of any quarantine, you need to make sure you can live in a comfortable home for a few weeks. We need food to survive, especially while ill. Are your pantries and medicine stocked to last a few weeks?
You want food with a longer shelf life. You also want to get enough nutrients if fresh foods are less available. The best options include pasta, rice, stocks and broths, beans, cured meats, and eggs. With these ingredients, you can keep it entertaining and healthy. Don’t forget the spices and seasonings.
Most of us already have these ingredients in our pantries. If you don’t have some of these things, maybe grab a couple the next time you’re at the store. This is crucial: Do not panic buy 50 cans of soup. If people panic and buy way more than they need, then we risk the plague of scarcity. Again we must think of others as well.
Whether you will be asked to self-isolate or not, it is also essential to keep your house as disinfected as possible right now to prevent infection further. You can make homemade cleaners using bleach and alcohol. Any alcohol will work as long as it is 60 percent, but can’t be diluted.
Prepare a bleach solution by mixing five tablespoons bleach per gallon of water. It’s fine to add some essential oils to improve the scent of bleach. Be sure to clean doorknobs, light switches, handles remotes, phones, keys, counters, and bathrooms primarily.
We have faced pandemics before, and we can hope that this isn’t the big one. We can actually even do more than hope. We can be proactive in protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our communities by taking the most simple steps possible: wash your hands vigorously for 20 seconds; don’t touch your face; cover your cough correctly, stay away from people if sick and make sure your house is prepared.
If our ancestors knew these things, I can bet they would have followed them. If they believed hanging Asafoetida and rabbit’s feet around their necks would save them, then they would do anything. Imagine how things could have turned out if they had correct information? We do have accurate information through all the noise. Don’t take your safety or preparedness for granted. Don’t wait for “them” to fix this. With knowledge in hand, you can make a difference. If enough of us are proactive, then this virus will not be able to turn the next page of history.
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