For New Pittsburgh Courier
By now, you’ve probably heard a lot of people saying that we need to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19. The curve is how many people get infected over time. As noted in Ms. Bush’s commentary, “flattening the curve” doesn’t mean our region will have fewer cases overall. It means slowing down the number of cases each day.
Under normal conditions, Pittsburgh’s hospitals have enough equipment and medicines to help people who have trouble breathing because of illness or injury. But if too many people get really sick at the same time, hospitals couldn’t treat them all. That’s why we want the infection curve to stay low. Flattening the curve starts right now. We can do it by practicing regular handwashing, “social distancing” and staying close to home, if possible.
National and citywide states of emergency have been declared. Schools, churches and restaurants are closed. Authorities are canceling events and asking people to avoid large crowds.
When you are with other people, try to keep 3 to 6 feet between you. This is the distance that droplets could travel when people cough or sneeze without covering their mouths. (You should always cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze; use a tissue or your elbow—not your hands.)
Even if you are healthy, you probably know people who are at higher risk of infection because they are over 60 years old or have a chronic illness like lupus, asthma, diabetes or heart disease. Ask your health care provider if you have questions about your specific situation.
Wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food. Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizers in a pinch. (https://washyourlyrics.com/ is a website that will help. Just type the song and artist in the designated area and the website pulls up the lyrics and places them, line-by-line, over a graphic that shows the best way to effectively wash your hands.)
Avoid touching your face, cover your cough and practice other routine precautions against infection.
Use surface disinfectants frequently on things you touch—telephones, doorknobs, kitchen counters, faucets, keyboards and other fixtures.
Practice social distancing routinely—even if you’re not infected yourself. This means staying home as much as possible, avoiding crowds unless absolutely necessary, maintaining 6 feet of distance between individuals when you can, not shaking hands, covering coughs, washing hands and other similar social distancing measures.
You can be a role model for the community and help prevent the spread of infection.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines also give more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html