No matter what, keep calm.
Especially now that coronavirus chaos has hit so close to home.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency in Ohio after three cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Cuyahoga County.
The Ohio State University in Columbus has suspended face-to-face classes. Israel set a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the country, Italy is on lockdown and Ireland canceled St. Patrick’s Day parades.
There will surely be more cases diagnosed and more closings of schools, businesses and events.
No matter what, keep calm. That’s the main thing. We’re in this for the long haul. Life is about to change dramatically, but only for a while. How long? No one knows. But we can do this, people, as long as we remain calm.
In the meantime, wash your hands. That’s the best advice the experts and non-experts are spreading all over Facebook. You gotta be impressed at all this creativity in the face of a crisis that led people to post:
“Wash your hands like you were just chopping jalapenos and you need to change your contact lenses.”
“… like you just ate a whole bag of Cheetos and are about to crochet with pure white yarn.”
“… like you just did hot yoga and are about to eat avocado toast
Then there’s Ohio coronavirus prevention: “Wash your hands like you just accidentally touched a Steelers T-shirt.” Or a Michigan jersey.
And wash them for at least 20 seconds, for the duration of at least one verse of “Happy Birthday.” Musical theater people are sharing 20-second clips from songs to sing while you wash your hands: “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked.” “On My Own” from “Les Miserables.” “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from “Funny Girl.” “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from “Hairspray.” “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago.”
Then there’s financial advice on Twitter: “Your 401(k) is like your face now. Don’t touch it.” When it comes to the stock market, leave your stocks alone.
But do stock up on your prescriptions, laundry soap, toilet paper, nonperishables, diapers and whatever comfort foods help if you do end up with a fever for a few days. Because for most of us, that’s all that will happen. A fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Beware of fake news about celebrities with coronavirus. I jumped when I saw this, then laughed: “Breaking News: John Travolta was hospitalized for suspected COVID-19, but doctors now confirm that it was only Saturday Night Fever, and they assure everyone that he is Staying Alive.”
I had to smile at the doctored Facebook photo of the Mona Lisa wearing a gas mask with the caption: Corona Lisa.
Things will change. For a while, social distancing will be the norm. Work from home if you can. Stay home if you’re sick. No more shaking hands. Greet each other with elbow pumps, fist bumps or Spock’s Vulcan salute, if you’re so genetically inclined.
And no touching your face. Yes, some of us actually need a reminder not to pick our nose. Sad, but true. And not just our nose, but our lips and eyes as well. I just saw a short video of a California health official reading a statement on how not to get the coronavirus: “Today, start working on not touching your face, because one main way viruses spread, is when you touch your own mouth, nose, or eyes.” Good advice, until she licked her finger to turn the page of her speech.
And yet, we are all a bit gross. We wash our hands, but don’t dry them all the way. Or dry them on our jeans. Or shake them in the air. (Guilty on all counts.)
Most of us will have our lives disrupted, but for most people, the coronavirus isn’t deadly, just inconvenient. Planning and preparing are helpful; panicking isn’t.
So instead of complaining about your travel plans being derailed, or your college students returning home because classes are closed, click your red ruby slippers and repeat, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
And stay there if you get sick.
We can get through this, alone and together. Let’s not spread panic or fuel fear. Let’s pause, take a deep breath, exhale away from each other and promise that we will stay in the present moment and not awfulize the future. It’s simply unknowable.
Just like always.