[Kristin Omdahl's directions-- no-sew face mask from bandanna/rubber bands here:
[Jamaican/NYC hospital worker appears to have successfully "treated himself re: coronavirus with traditional Caribbean home remedies made with turmeric, garlic, and ginger" (email email@example.com for her cider immunology info/secrets):
[I swear by vitamins A& C for keeping my immune system strong; Gary Null here:
Using blue shop towels in homemade face masks can filter particles 2x to 3x better than cotton, 3 clothing designers discover after testing dozens of fabrics
Lindsay Medoff, the CEO of Suay Sew Shop, a 30-employee boutique Los Angeles clothing manufacturer, wants the armies of people sewing homemade surgical masks to add a specific blue shop towel inside them.
Medoff and two friends were appalled by the dozens of mask patterns calling for cotton, a highly breathable, permeable fabric, and became obsessed with finding a fabric better suited for the job. They built a lab that could test particle filtration down to 0.3 microns and tested every fabric they could find, from coffee filters to industrial materials.
They discovered that by adding two blue shop towels and using a design that produces a tighter-fitting mask, they could make a mask that could block up to 95% of the particles they could test, while the cotton masks blocked 20% to 60% of the particles.
These are not meant to replace
the N95 masks
worn by healthcare workers — they're designed to be an alternative to the cotton masks that many people are making and wearing for quick trips to the grocery store.
The women are sewing 200,000 masks and giving them — and a design — away, as well as raising money to pay their workers their full wages.
They're also raising money to get their mask tested with the actual COVID-19 pathogen to see whether their design could be validated as a safer solution during the mask shortage.
"This is ordinary people taking their power back," Medoff said.
Lindsay Medoff, the CEO and owner of Suay Sew Shop, a 30-employee boutique manufacturer in Los Angeles, has eagerly jumped on board. But when she got a mask pattern from an ER-doctor friend of hers a couple of weeks ago, she was appalled.
"They sent me a pattern that looked like [it was] from Etsy," she told Business Insider. "I thought, 'What do I do with this?'"
Suay's fashion niche is industrial
, a big fashion trend these days. The company takes unsold clothing items from major brands, such as Patagonia down vests,
and crafts them into new clothing
, recycling 85% or more of the materials.
But the mask instructions circulating on the internet are not geared toward professional, industrial production. Pro shops use digital instructions, not the kind of paper patterns people buy from fabric shops like JoAnn, Medoff said.
Medoff called her best friend from high school, Chloe Schempf, who also sews and previously had a career designing displays for fashion brands like Urban Outfitters and Free People. Today she's a full-time mom living in rural Michigan, where her husband's veterinary practice is. (Her husband, Dr. Ray Harp, is a cast member on the long-running National Geographic show about country vets, "
The Incredible Dr. Pol
Schempf had dusted off her sewing machine to join the troops of homemade-mask makers, but when she looked at the instructions, she had another surprise.
No one seemed to be thinking about the fabric that the instructions called for: cotton, and cotton fill for the filter.
How could a highly breathable cotton weave be the right material to filter microscopic pathogenic particles?
"The recommendation of a bandana made me ill," Schempf said. "I couldn't understand how we can go from a 2020 N95 mask to a 1918-era cotton mask with a variable filtration of 20% to 60%."
3 women set up their own mask-testing shop
Clothing is all about choosing the right fabric for the right use. We don't use insulated down-filled fabric for a swimsuit or a T-shirt jersey knit for a winter coat.
So Schempf, Medoff, and Medoff's business partner, Heather Pavlu, a co-owner of Suay Sew Shop, became obsessed with finding a less permeable fabric for masks.
"We spent a few days researching and brainstorming any material that could filter: coffee filters, batting, window shades, Swiffer, interfacing, etc., all the way to more technical materials that are available to specialized industrial sectors like aviation, oil refinery, medical fields," Schempf said.
They bought a $1,400 particulate-counter device from Grainger that measures filtration ability down to 0.3 microns and spent another 10 sleepless days testing all the fabrics they could find.
They wanted a material they could buy as easily as cotton but that balanced filtration with breathability — they discovered that HEPA vacuum-cleaner bags, for instance, had great filtration but were too suffocating to wear.
The ideal material turned out to be stretchy blue shop towels made from a polyester hydro knit.
Inserting two of these towels into an ordinary cotton mask brought filtration up to 93% of particles as small as 0.3 microns, the smallest their machine could test. Meanwhile, the cotton masks filtered 60% of particles at best in their tests, Schempf said.
Having found the material, they worked on a design. "The fit has a lot to do with your protection," Schempf said. "You can have a great mask, but if you aren't getting a tight fit, it won't protect you."
Pavlu said she sewed "at least 15 types of the patterns that were being spread on the internet" before the team realized they were going to have to design a new mask themselves.
So Pavlu tracked down and rented a PortaCount Respirator Fit Tester 8040 machine, and the team tested things like how a wire nose clamp could help create a high-filtration, one-size-fits-all mask.
They are putting the final tweaks to their mask design and plan to release the design for free to the public next week. The instructions will be good for home sewers and pros, available on
200,000 masks from an industrial material
During their tests, they discovered another material that filtered exceptionally well: cleaning towels made from a plastic called polypropylene, used to clean industrial machines.
Suay bought a big supply of it. But the team can't recommend this fabric to the public. The supply is dwindling, Medoff said, because the industrial makers of the material are now dedicating themselves to manufacturing medical-protection supplies.
Still, Suay has enough to make 200,000 masks and has already sewn thousands, Medoff said.
The team also discovered the mask held 95% of its filtration abilities after up to three machine washes.
"We are calling them semi-disposable at this point and are continuing testing after six, seven, 10 washes," Pavlu said.
The next step is to test this mask and the shop-towel version to see whether they actually block the COVID-19 pathogen, which is a smaller particle than their equipment can test.
They are curious and hopeful about their masks, but they don't have any proof that they will protect healthy people from getting the virus any better than an ordinary cotton mask.
Health experts have said
that while surgical-style masks like these aren't likely to protect a healthy person from getting the virus, if people with COVID-19 wear them — especially along with following social distancing — that could help minimize the spread.
Schempf said she found a lab in Kansas City making COVID-19 testing kits that was willing to test their masks, but the testing fee is $40,000. She's
started a GoFundMe
to raise the money and to fund mask-production efforts in her area of rural Michigan.
How masks can help
Medoff said that the shop-towel masks and the ones from polypropylene fabric that her staff is making are not foolproof safety measures. The logic is that if even cotton masks are useful, then ones made of less permeable material can only help.
Suay is in full production and giving the masks away to anyone who needs them, including medical professionals, nursing-home workers, hospice-care workers, people caring for an ill relative, and grocery-store workers — people who are "risking their lives" on the front lines, she said.
Many of these people break down in tears when they get these masks, she said.
Because she's paying her workers their full wages to sew the free masks, she's asking for donations
via a GoFundMe
"This is by community, for community," Medoff said. "This is ordinary people taking their power back."
Stock up on these 9 healthy foods to boost your immune system during coronavirus, says doctor and dietitian
Published Fri, Apr 3 20201:34 PM EDTUpdated Fri, Apr 3 20201:51 PM EDT
But maintaining a healthy diet to help boost your immune system may also give you an edge. It’s important to note that no research has been done on foods that help fight against COVID-19 specifically.
However, previous studies have found that eating certain foods can improve your health and strengthen your body’s ability to fight other invasive viruses.
Here are nine expert-approved foods to stock up on during your next grocery store trip, along with creative ideas on how to add them to your diet:
1. Red bell peppers
“Daily intake of vitamin C is essential for good health because our bodies don’t produce it naturally,”
Dr. Seema Sarin
, an internal medicine physician at
CNBC Make It
She suggests slicing one up and eating it raw with hummus as a crunchy snack or mixing some into your salad. If you prefer them cooked, throw a handful in a pan for a quick stir-fry.
Broccoli is also rich in vitamin C. Just half a cup contains 43% of your daily value of vitamin C, according to the
“Broccoli is packed with
phytochemicals and antioxidants
that support our immune system,” says Sarin. It also contains vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help fight off bacteria and viruses.
According to the
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
, vitamin C is one nutrient Americans aren’t getting enough of in their diet, so finding simple ways to add it in is crucial.
“To get the most out of this powerhouse vegetable, eat it raw or just slightly cooked,” says Sarin. “I love sauteing broccoli with garlic and Parmesan, or stir-frying with bell peppers, ginger, garlic and mushrooms.”
Chickpeas contain a lot of protein, an essential nutrient made of amino acids that help grow and repair the body’s tissues. It’s also involved in synthesizing and maintaining enzymes to keep our systems functioning properly, according to the
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
“Chickpeas are also packed with zinc, which helps the immune system control and regulate immune responses,” Emily Wunder, a dietitian and founder of the nutritious recipes site
CNBC Make It
Roasted chickpeas are great as a quick great snack or salad topper. Make sure they’re completely dry before roasting. Then add a few tablespoons of oil (vegetable, canola or grapeseed oil all work well) and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring halfway through until they’re crispy.
For a nice kick, Wunder suggests adding some salt and paprika. If you’re using canned chickpeas, she says you’ll want to rinse them thoroughly to cut down on sodium content.
Wunder enjoys half a cup of strawberries to get 50% of her vitamin C needs for the day.
“Vitamin C is great for
strengthening your immune system
,” she says, because it can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals that we’re often exposed to in the environment.
Wunder recommends adding chopped strawberries to yogurt, oatmeal or on top of whole wheat toast with peanut butter. “Of course, they go well with smoothies, too,” she says.
“Not only is garlic full of flavor, but it’s packed with health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing risk of heart disease,” according to Sarin. “Garlic’s immunity-boosting abilities come from its heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, which can help fight off some infections.”
Garlic has been shown in the past to help ward off the common cold. In a
2001 study published in Advances in Therapy
, participants who took garlic supplements were less likely to catch a cold. And those who did get infected recovered faster than participants in the placebo group.
It’s an easy vegetable to work into your diet, says Sarin. You can add to it anything — from pasta sauce and salad dressings to soups and stir-fry dishes. She suggests aiming to consume two to three cloves per day.
“While sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D, it can also be provided by some foods, including mushrooms,” says Wunder.
of mushrooms as a vitamin D source found that the “sunshine vitamin” can help enhance the absorption of calcium, which is good for bone health, and may also protect against some cancers and
Mushrooms are great as a side dish or appetizer. Wunder recommends roasting them at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, using one to two tablespoons of oil, minced garlic and a dash of salt and pepper. For something more flavorful, bake button mushrooms stuffed with cheese, onion and artichoke hearts.
“Spinach is rich in vitamin C and full of antioxidants that help shield our immune cells from environmental damage,” says Sarin. “Plus, it has
, which is the main dietary source of vitamin A — an essential component of proper immune function.”
Like broccoli, it’s best to consume spinach raw or slightly cooked. To incorporate more spinach into your diet, Sarin suggests blending it in a smoothie, cooking it with your morning eggs or, as an easy side dish, lightly sauteing with garlic.
“Yogurt is a great source of probiotics, which are good bacteria that can help promote a healthy gut and immune system,” says Sarin.
have also found probiotics to be effective for fighting the common cold and influenza-like respiratory infections.
Sarin recommends choosing plain yogurt — rather than anything too flavored or sweetened — and topping it with fruit and honey. “Or, you can add it to your favorite post-workout smoothie,” she says.
Those on a dairy-free diet can still benefit from almond-milk and coconut-milk yogurt options.
9. Sunflower seeds
“Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, which works as an antioxidant and helps boosts the immune system,” says Wunder.
Small but mighty, just one ounce of dry-roasted sunflower seeds can give you 49% of your daily value of vitamin E, according to the
Line a baking pan with parchment paper and roast unshelled sunflower seeds at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until they’re lightly browned. Then add the seeds to your salad or toss them with roasted vegetables. You can also use raw seeds in place of pine nuts for some homemade pesto.
10 Mistakes You're Making With Face Masks
Wondering how to best use a face mask to reduce your exposure to coronavirus? We've got you covered.
The U.S government now recommends that Americans wear masks or other face coverings when out in public. The intention is to slow the spread of COVID-19: Researchers have found that people may be able to transmit the virus for days without showing symptoms, and wearing a mask may reduce your exposure to the virus. What to do now? First, leave the N95 masks for healthcare providers; it's recommended that the public use cloth or homemade masks instead. Second, follow this expert advice to avoid making the most common mistakes when wearing face masks.
"Once you wear a mask once, it's contaminated by whatever. If you take the mask off and sit it on another surface, that surface is now contaminated," says
Geoffrey Mount Varner
, MD, MPH, FACEP, a Maryland-based emergency medicine physician.
The Rx: "It's best to use one-use masks and once they are taken off, dispose of them," says Mount Varner. "If you use a cloth or hand-made mask, it needs to be washed and sanitized between wears."
You're Touching the Mask With Dirty Hands
"If you contaminate your mask even from the outside, you can get easily infected," says physician
, MD, Ph.D.
"Taking off your face mask and then reapplying it with contaminated hands can move the bacteria or virus directly into the breathable area," says
, MD, a Texas-based psychiatrist.
The Rx: Make sure your hands are clean before adjusting the mask. It's best to avoid touching your face in general.
You're Wearing the Same Mask All Day
"A mask should be changed or disinfected as often as every 2 hours, otherwise viral particles can accumulate on it and you are more likely to breathe them in," says Marinov.
You're Not Fully Covered
"I see many people wearing their masks below the nose," says Marinov. "While it will still protect others if you are coughing or sneezing, it will not protect you from COVID-19 if someone else nearby is infected and coughs."
The Rx: Once the mask is fitted properly on the nose, it should be extended so that it fits right under your chin, says
, a New York City-based dentist. "This is to ensure maximum coverage."
Adds Heathman: "The purpose is to breathe through the mask, not around the mask."
You're Putting It on Too Late
Without the mask, you're susceptible to inhaling the particles in the air. "You must put it on ahead of entering an area of risk," says
, a general surgeon and owner/CEO at Lugo Surgical Group in The Woodlands, Texas.
You're Too Trusting
You may think "the mask is 100 percent reliable," says Lugo. Not so. "It is meant to decrease the risk. Ultimately, social distancing is king."
"A surgical mask is not designed to provide a barrier between your respiratory system and all viruses and bacteria," says
Leann Poston, MD
, a physician with Invigor Medical in New York City. "Social distancing helps protect you from viral particles sneezed and coughed into the air by people who may not know that they are sick yet."
You're Spraying It With Chemicals
"Applying any chemical like Lysol to the mask that makes it wet is bad," says Lugo. "You can spray it to sanitize lightly, and then put it in a bag. Do not saturate it."
You're Getting the Mask Wet
"Once the mask becomes wet, it becomes less effective and needs to be changed to a dry one," says Abernathy. Avoid touching the mask with your tongue. "Touching the mask with your tongue makes it wet and more porous," advises Lugo. "You want the mask to stay dry."
You're Wearing It Wrong
"Masks have a front (that is usually colored, textured or has the brand name) and a back (that is usually white and more cotton-like)," says Abernathy. "The back side should be touching your face. It is designed this way so that particles are properly filtered."
You Think All Masks Are the Same
Different masks have different uses. "An N95 mask filters out 95% of bacteria and viruses if they are correctly fitted to your face," says Poston. This is what healthcare workers are using to better protect themselves when caring for sick patients. "A surgical mask is designed to contain your droplets to help protect those around you."
Making your own face mask? Some fabrics work better than others, study finds
Some fabrics were found to work better at filtering small particles than medical grade masks.
April 3, 2020, 11:27 AM PDT / Updated April 3, 2020, 3:03 PM PDT
By Erika Edwards
Federal health officials now recommend people cover their mouths and noses with cloth face masks when in public to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Friday afternoon, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
updated its guidance on the matter, recommending individuals use cloth face coverings "in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain," such as grocery stores and pharmacies. The guidance recommends people use fabric coverings, not surgical masks or specialized N95 masks, which should be reserved for health care providers.
If you are making your own covering, new research finds that some fabrics are better than others at filtering out viral particles.
"You have to use relatively high-quality cloth," Dr. Scott Segal, chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said.
Face coverings made of fabric, public health experts note, aren't intended to protect wearers from getting sick, but rather, to prevent them from spreading the virus to others. And the guidance will still exclude using surgical or medical grade masks, which experts say should be reserved for people who are sick and for the health care workers who care for them.
Segal came up with the idea to study which fabrics would work best.
In partnership with the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, he tested a variety of cloth materials to see which ones not only allowed for breathability, but also filtered small particles — such as viruses. The research from Wake Forest has not been submitted for publication and has not been peer-reviewed.
On the left, researchers used a special filtration test to determine how many small particles were blocked with a variety of masks and fabrics. On the right, a piece of cloth lets light shine through easily, signalling a lower quality fabric.
Courtesy of Wake Forest Baptist Health
To test various masks and fabrics, the team pumped air through both types of face coverings.
"Our instruments could read down to 0.3 microns, which is about the size of a big virus," Segal said.
Regular surgical masks filtered out 62 percent to 65 percent of particles. For comparison, N95 masks filter 95 percent of those particles.
But the fabrics led to a variety of results. One piece of cloth filtered just 1 percent of particles, rendering it virtually useless, while others were found to perform even better than the surgical masks.
"We had some that performed at 79 percent," Segal told NBC News.
The best masks were constructed of two layers of heavyweight "quilters cotton" with a thread count of at least 180, and had thicker and tighter weave.
Lesser quality fabrics also worked well, as long as they had an internal layer of flannel.
"You do want to use a woven fabric, like batik," Segal said, "but you don't want to use a knit fabric, because the holes between the knit stitches are bigger."
In other words, if the fabric allows for a substantial amount of light to shine through, it's probably going to allow tiny viral particles through, as well.
Other hospitals, such as
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
in Nashville, have also suggested using tightly woven fabrics for do-it-yourself facial coverings. Kaiser Permanente has also published
on DIY masks, also calling for two layers of cotton fabrics.
Cotton T-shirts, however, may not be as useful. A 2013 study published in the journal
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
compared medical grade surgical masks with homemade facial coverings using plain cotton T-shirts. The surgical masks were found to be three times more effective in blocking small particles than the T-shirts.
If you decide to use homemade face coverings, public health officials offered caution. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force response coordinator, said masks should be used only as an "additive" to social distancing, not a substitute.
During a news conference Thursday, Birx said people often feel "an artificial sense of protection because they are behind a mask," adding, "Don't get a false sense of security."
A few tips for best practices when it comes to DIY facial coverings:
- Opt for masks that tie around the ear, rather than ones that have a standard elastic band. The ties can be adjusted to fit each face better than the elastic band.
- Make sure to use dry masks. When masks get wet, even from the moisture emitted when a person exhales, the fabric could be more likely to transmit virus.
- Wash masks regularly, with regular detergent and in regular washing machine cycles.
Segal suggested avoiding "bleach or other harsher chemicals until we know the effect on the fabric's effectiveness."
He added additional studies will be needed to determine whether masks retain their filtering ability after multiple cycles through the washing machine.
Erika Edwards is a health and medical news writer and reporter for NBC News and "TODAY."
A Comprehensive Guide to Masks
Who needs them, what kind you should wear, when to wear them, and why.
APRIL 03, 2020 6:37 PM
We’re going to be seeing a lot more face masks soon. After a week of rumors that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would advise regular folks to wear masks, President Donald Trump
in a press briefing Friday that “the CDC is advising the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as a voluntary health measure.”
This is awfully confusing. Back when this all started,
. You probably have some questions—about whether you should take the CDC up on the suggestion and about what changed. Here is our best shot at explaining what happened here!
So, what does the CDC say about masks now?
As of Friday afternoon, the recommendation
in the CDC’s guide on how to protect yourself
still has its old advice: no need to wear a mask unless you are sick. Trump indicated in the press briefing that the new guidance would only apply to people in coronavirus hot spots and noted that it was a mere recommendation, one that he himself would not be following. There will probably be updated guidance and clarifications in the days to come. For now, let’s go with: The CDC suggests you can wear a mask, if you want to, and you should wear a mask if you are sick.
This really sounds like I should just start wearing a face mask to be safe?
Not so fast. The answer currently is: It depends, both on the situation you’re in, and then, whom in particular you are asking. Like everything about this pandemic, the coronavirus is taking over the world as we are in the middle of learning about it, which means experts are making recommendations with less data than is ideal. “When you’re getting conflicting advice, it’s telling you that it’s really not a scientifically well-established point of view,” Robert Amler, a former CDC chief medical officer, now at New York Medical College, told me.
OK, so in what situations should I wear a mask?
There’s one situation in which the answer is a clear, obvious, scientifically agreed-upon yes: If you are sick, wear a mask.
The coronavirus definitely spreads through droplets from coughs; if you are coughing into a physical barrier, such as a surgical mask, it can stop those droplets, and even some of the smaller particles, from making it onto another person, or—more likely, since we are social distancing—onto a surface where another person might touch them and then touch their face. (This is why we are
washing our hands
This is, in fact, why surgeons wear surgical masks—so “something dripping out of [the surgeon’s] face doesn’t drip into the wound they’re working on,” says Amler. They can also protect surgeons from getting
splashed directly with bodily fluid
. Surgical masks are not, medically speaking, meant to be worn by healthy people to stay healthy; they are just meant to block the exchange of liquids.
Of course, the tricky thing right now is figuring out who is sick, which is why delivering a directive like “wear a mask if you’re sick” does not quite cut it right now. Plenty of people don’t feel sick but still might be spewing around virus-filled droplets, hence, the current ongoing debate about whether we should just tell everyone to wear masks.
But I thought there was a mask shortage?
Yes, as you may have heard, health care workers working with COVID-19 patients—or potential COVID-19 patients—really, really need to be wearing heavy-duty masks called N95s. These masks are important because they’re strong enough to filter out particles, like viruses, rather than just blocking droplets. But there is currently
a shortage of N95s
. In response, the CDC has loosened their guidelines for health care workers to allow surgical masks as an “
.” Health care workers were upset about this, precisely because surgical masks do not work all that well to protect against direct exposure to someone with the virus. But it’s true that they are better than nothing: When researchers at the Health and Safety Laboratory in the U.K. sprayed aerosolized influenza particles at a test dummy from 2 feet away,
that a well-fitted surgical masks didn’t eliminate exposure to the influenza to the extent that an N95 can, but they could reduce it tenfold. (That’s not a real-world scenario, exactly, but it’s also not that removed from what hospital workers experience.)
At any rate, among all the things we don’t know, at least the current hierarchy of masks is clear—N95 masks are most effective, then surgical masks, then homemade masks.
OK. So shouldn’t I let health care workers have the N95 masks, if there’s a shortage and all?
Yes, you really should. If you use an N95, a health care worker cannot use that N95. (If you have N95 masks that you would like to donate, the top entry
in this Slate guide
explains how you can do so.)
Even if we didn’t have a shortage, experts wouldn’t recommend regular people wear N95s. You have to be really careful to make sure an N95 fits properly, because air sneaking around the side makes them far less effective. You also have to dispose of them carefully after each use, so you don’t end up contaminating yourself via the used mask. And, an N95 “has its own side effects,” Amler explains.
All that filtering slows down air flow, so they can also be a bit
difficult to breathe through
, so much so that the New York Department of Health has advised that clean-up workers who may need them for protection against chemicals check with their doctor if they have a preexisting condition. “It’s almost like breathing in a paper bag,” said Amler.
So I should wear a surgical mask?
If you have one in your possession already, yes, that’s probably your best bet. But surgical masks are
out of stock
will take weeks
to arrive from many retailers, plus
hospitals need them
, both so that sick patients can use them, and even so that health care workers who don’t have N95s can use them. So if you don’t have them, ordering them may not help.
… which leaves me the option of making a mask?
Yes. It’s not perfect—
limited data suggest
homemade masks are less effective than surgical masks—but it’s not nothing, either. There are
that suggest that diligently wearing a mask when you have someone with a confirmed respiratory illness in your home can help reduce the spread. “Ideally, you want the sick person to wear a mask,” says Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist, in addition to having them stay as isolated as possible. But your own wearing of a mask will further limit the spread.
That masks are imperfect is just one of the reasons social distancing is still so important. Staying physically distant from one another keeps the possibility of spreading droplets between one another as low as it can be. The mask is just an additional thing on top, though it should help continue to lower the spread.
If you’re OK at sewing, you can download a pattern from the New York Times
. MarketWatch has
to make masks with a stapler or safety pins. And
how to make one with a handkerchief and hair ties.
Is there any downside to wearing a mask?
Actually, possibly. Many experts worry that masks will provide a false sense of security. “I worry that if people put on masks, then they’ll think, OK, I’m protected, and they won’t wash their hands as vigorously or be careful not to touch their faces,” Aaron Carroll, an Indiana University pediatrics professor
said in an episode of Slate’s What Next
. “Or worse, they’ll keep touching their faces because they keep adjusting the masks, or they might just start to be lax in their social distancing.”
There’s also the fact that a dirty mask can be a source of contamination. Masks are single use; they need to go in the trash or into a laundry bin. You need to wash your hands before you put one on and after you take one off. The World Health Organization has detailed instructions on proper mask etiquette
If you are careful not to let the mask lull you into a false sense of security, if you are able to wear it and not adjust it and touch your face, and if you follow best practices for taking it on and off—it doesn’t seem like it would hurt.
People who are in favor of masks argue that masks actually help keep all the other practices top of mind. In this theory, masks help remind you not to touch your face. They are a psychological signal that we are in a pandemic, as science writer Knvul Sheikh
explained in the New York Times
: “They serve as a visual reminder to improve hand hygiene and social distancing.” The studies showing they can reduce transmission within a household suggests that it’s possible this way of looking at it is true! Who’s right? Well, like everything about this pandemic, we need more detailed data to tell for sure.
OK, so if I’m sick, I should be wearing a mask to go outside.
No. If you’re sick, you should stay inside. Or, as Amler says: “If you’re going out even if you only have mild symptoms, we’re not going to get through this, and more people will die.”
Right. If I’m sick, I stay inside, and I can wear a mask inside to protect people who have to live with me.
If I’m not sick, then I should still wear a mask?
You can, because you might still be spreading the virus. “We’re still learning a lot about the asymptomatic people,” says Popescu. For her, the evidence of asymptomatic transmission isn’t convincing enough to warrant universal mask-wearing. She thinks there might not be all that many truly asymptomatic people out there, just
people ignoring mild symptoms
. But it’s also possible that a lot of viral shedding happens when people are presymptomatic, as Caroline Chen
in ProPublica, citing
a small study
of 94 patients that has not yet been peer-reviewed. One part of the solution to presymptomatic spreading is for everyone to “wear a mask, preferably universally in public spaces,” as Gabriel Leung, dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, told Chen.
So, everyone in Asia had this right the whole time?
But why has there been so much confusion over masks?
Part of it comes down to social norms: Mask-wearing is a norm in other countries—yes, including
many that appear to have successfully flattened their curves
. It’s unclear if mask-wearing actually helped to cause the flattening we’re seeing to a meaningful extent. But it does make sense that we’re looking at other countries, asking if what they did was helpful, and figuring out if we should be adjusting our own practices as a result.
In the end, the reason for the back-and-forth is the same reason that everything about this pandemic is confusing: We are learning a lot about it on the fly, scientifically. It’s unclear to what extent old standards apply. “I always go back to what we do during flu season,” says Popescu. In the U.S., we don’t wear masks during flu season. But influenza might spread less easily than the new coronavirus—it doesn’t spread through asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission, for example.
Right now is also a lot different than flu season, in so many ways. Right now, almost everyone wants to do everything possible to stop the spread, to keep from getting sick. “In a state of fear, people want something to do to protect themselves,” says Popescu. We have control over so little right now, as individuals, and masks are one thing that we can control.
8 New Superfoods You Should Eat Every Day
Sneak these 8 super nutritious foods into your daily routine to start tipping the scales back in your favor.
Eating a balanced diet in today's food landscape means that when you're surrounded by bad, you've got to maximize the good if you want to boost your health and
. You have to find places in your day to sneak in the healthiest foods in the world. And to do so, you don't have to look any further than your local grocery store. Some of the best superfoods for your health are many foods you likely already have in your fridge and pantry.
Give your health a boost with these stellar superfoods.
One study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects who ate coconut oil
lost overall weight and belly fat
faster than a group consuming the same amount of olive oil. The secret is in coconut's medium-chain triglycerides. Unlike the long-chain fatty acids in most oils, coconut oil is broken down immediately for use rather than stored, and has been found to speed up the metabolism. That's right—your body has trouble storing the calories in coconut oil, and revs up its metabolism to burn them instead. Coconut oil's high smoke point makes it great for just about every dish from eggs to stir-frys, and a delicious substitute for butter when baking.
Flax and Chia Seeds
One of the hallmarks of a balanced diet is to have a good ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s. A 4:1 ratio would be ideal, but the modern American diet is more like 20:1. That leads to inflammation, which can trigger weight gain. But while eating a serving of salmon every day isn't exactly convenient, sprinkling these two seeds—among the most highly concentrated sources of omega-3s in the food world—into smoothies, salads, cereals, pancakes or even desserts is as easy a diet upgrade as you can get. Animal studies suggest a chia-rich diet can lower harmful LDL cholesterol and protect the heart, and a recent study in the journal Hypertension found that daily consumption of flaxseed-fortified bakery products reduced blood pressure in patients with peripheral artery disease. Best absorbed when ground, flax adds delicious nuttiness to oats, cereal, smoothies and baked goods.
Eggs are the single best dietary source of the B vitamin choline, an essential nutrient used in the construction of all the body's cell membranes. Two eggs will give you half your day's worth; only beef liver has more. (And believe us, starting your day with a slab of beef liver does not make for a great morning.) Choline deficiency is linked directly to the genes that cause the accumulation of belly fat. Eggs can solve the problem: Research has shown dieters who eat eggs for breakfast as compared to a high-carb meal of a bagel have an easier time losing weight due to their satiety value. At about 70 calories, a hard-boiled egg also makes an easy afternoon snack … just don't tell your coworkers; according to a personality analysis by the British Egg Industry Council, boiled egg consumers tend to be disorganized! (Other findings: fried egg fans have a high sex drive and omelette eaters are self-disciplined.)
Apples with the Skin On
A medium-sized apple, at about 100 calories and 4.5 grams fiber per fruit, is one of the best snack options for anyone looking to slim down—but especially apple-shaped folks. A recent study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in
eaten per day, visceral fat (that's dangerous belly fat) was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. Participants who paired their apple-a-day habit with 30 minutes of exercise 2-4 times per week saw a 7.4 percent decrease in the rate of visceral fat accumulation over the same time period. But don't peel your apple if you want to peel off the pounds: A study conducted at the University of Western Australia found that the blushing varieties (such as Pink Ladies) had the highest level of antioxidant phenols, most of which are found in the skin.
It may be the easiest nutrition upgrade of all: put cinnamon on your toast. According to researchers, cinnamon contains powerful antioxidants called polyphenols proven to improve insulin sensitivity and, in turn, our body's ability to store fat and manage hunger cues. A series of studies printed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding a heaping teaspoon cinnamon to a starchy meal may help stabilize blood sugar and ward off insulin spikes.
A scoop of guacamole is one of the most effective hunger-squashers known to man. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40% decreased desire to eat for hours afterwards. At only 60 calories, a 2 Tablespoon serving of guacamole (on top of eggs, salads, grilled meats, etc.) can provide the same satiety benefit with even more of a flavor punch. Just be sure when buying store-bought guac that avocados actually made it into the box (many are made without the real fruit)! We love Wholly Guacamole as a store brand.
Yep, lettuce. Move over, King Kale. In a new William Paterson University study that compared the 47 top superfoods by nutrient volume, the trendy superfood came in a respectable—but unremarkable—15th on the list. Ranking higher: watercress, spinach, leafy greens, and endive. Make yourself a bowl of leafy greens and add some
. According to a Purdue University study, as little as 3 grams of monounsaturated fat can help the body absorb vegetables' carotenoids (those magic molecules that protect you from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease). Pairing your lettuce with a scant tablespoon of olive oil based vinaigrette is your best bet.
A recent study published in the journal Obesity found people who ate a single serving a day of garbanzo beans or chickpeas (which forms the basis of hummus) each day reported feeling 31 percent fuller than their bean-less counterparts. Packed with fiber and protein, garbanzos have a low glycemic index, meaning that they break down slowly and keep you feeling full. The secret is to avoid varieties made with tahini; sourced from sesame seeds, tahini has a high omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratio. Look for hummus that's olive-oil based.
11 Subtle Signs You May Have Coronavirus
Determine if it's just a cold—or something worse.
Every news story, talk show, and meme is centered around the coronavirus (COVID-19) right now. With so much focus on it, it's easy to psych yourself out and think you're infected when you feel the slightest headache coming on. Compare these 11 subtle signs that you may have coronavirus to the symptoms you're experiencing. Note: You don't have to have all of these symptoms to be infected; please check with your medical provider to be sure.
You Feel Extremely Tired
Like many other viruses, COVID-19 may completely zap your energy. If you're feeling unusually tired, it may be a subtle sign that you've contracted the virus. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
, 44% to 70% of patients with coronavirus reported fatigue as a common symptom they experienced when they contracted the virus. If you simply stayed up late to binge watch your favorite show or you didn't sleep well because you drank too much whiskey, your fatigue is explainable. If you can't explain your full-body fatigue, cross-check it with the following symptoms of COVID-19.
You Have a Dry Cough
reports a dry cough as a common symptom of coronavirus and 59% to 82% of patients diagnosed with the virus felt it coming on with a dry cough. According to
Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H.
from the Johns Hopkins Health System, the virus "travels to the back of your nasal passages and to the mucous membranes in the back of your throat." This is what causes an instant dry cough as soon as you're infected with the virus. Keep in mind, allergies may also cause a dry cough, so don't jump to conclusions that you've been infected if this is the only symptom you experience.
You Can't Catch Your Breath
About 31% to 40% of diagnosed coronavirus patients experienced a shortness of breath. According to the
, a shortness of breath can be described as an "intense tightening in the chest, air hunger, difficulty breathing, breathlessness, or a feeling of suffocation." You may experience a shortness of breath when you're exercising intensely or if you're experiencing anxiety or a panic attack. However, if you can't catch your breath and there's no reason for it, you may have been infected with coronavirus.
You Have a Fever
A fever is the most common symptom for those diagnosed with coronavirus. 83% to 99% of COVID-19 patients report experiencing a fever. According to
Harvard Medical School
, you have a fever if your body temperature is 100.4° Fahrenheit or higher. You may also experience "chills, sweating, muscle aches, nausea, and weakness." Your body develops a fever when it's working hard to fight off an infection or inflammation. Your fever may be a sign that you have the flu or it may be a symptom of COVID-19. Call your doctor if you develop a fever so you can potentially get tested for the virus.
You Lose Your Sense of Smell
If you couldn't smell your toast burning or coffee brewing this morning, it may be cause for concern. One of the newly-reported and most subtle symptoms associated with coronavirus is a loss of your sense of smell, also referred to as anosmia. This symptom was discovered by the
American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
when doctors found that many who tested positive for the virus had lost their ability to smell. "In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30% of patients testing positive have had anosmia as their major presenting symptom in otherwise mild cases."
The organization isn't surprised by their findings, since viral or respiratory infections like coronavirus are known to cause a loss of smell. In fact, about 40% of the cases of anosmia are related in some way to a viral infection. If you noticed changes in your ability to smell, you may have been infected by COVID-19.
You Get Pink Eye
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, may also be a sign of a coronavirus infection, although it's rare. According to the
American Academy of Ophthalmology
, 1% to 3% of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 also had viral pink eye.
The Academy warns that patients who have conjunctivitis and "who also have fever and respiratory symptoms, including cough and shortness of breath, and who have recently traveled internationally, particularly to areas with known outbreaks (China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, or to hotspots within the United States), or with family members recently back from one of these areas, could represent cases of COVID-19." If you contract conjunctivitis and have other symptoms, you may have been infected with the virus. If you're at high risk for virus complications, have a fever, or have shortness of breath, call your doctor.
Another subtle symptom that was common among coronavirus patients is nausea or diarrhea.
A study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology
analyzed the symptoms of over 200 people who were diagnosed with COVID-19. About half of these patients claimed to experience stomach issues, including either diarrhea, nausea, or both.
If you're feeling nauseous or you're experiencing diarrhea, it may just mean you overdid it on the quarantine snacks. However, if this symptom is coupled with other coronavirus symptoms, such as a dry cough, you may have been infected with the virus.
You Lost Your Sense of Taste
If you're having trouble tasting your food, it may also be a sign of a respiratory or viral infection such as coronavirus. A loss in your sense of taste, called dysgeusia, is related to losing your sense of smell, which is also a newly diagnosed symptom of the virus. While it's not a primary symptom of coronavirus,
Dr. Rachel Kaye
, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, claims many patients she saw who later tested positive for coronavirus were complaining that "everything tastes like cardboard."
After analyzing many cases, the
American Academy of Otolaryngology
confirms, "Anecdotal evidence is rapidly accumulating from sites around the world that anosmia and dysgeusia are significant symptoms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic." If you've lost your sense of taste, it may simply mean you're dealing with allergies or a common cold. But it's better to be safe than sorry and stay away from friends or loved ones.
You Have a Runny Nose
Generally, sinus congestion or a runny nose are signs you're dealing with allergies, a common cold, or a sinus infection. A runny nose is generally not a symptom of coronavirus in adults. However, this mild symptom may be more common in children infected with the virus. According to the
, "Children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough."
You Have Body Aches
Body aches and muscle soreness commonly accompany a fever. If you know you have a fever, it's no surprise that you're also feeling some muscle weakness. According to the
World Health Organization
, about 15% of patients diagnosed with coronavirus experienced body aches or joint pain. Your body aches could be a sign that you're dealing with another illness, such as the flu, or that you've been infected with the virus. If it's accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever and dry cough, contact your doctor.
You Feel Like You Have the Flu
Overall, coronavirus symptoms are similar to what you'd experience if you caught the flu. According to
Dr. Jake Duetsch
, founder and clinical director at Cure Urgent Care, "In terms of differentiating between flu and COVID-19, it can be almost impossible to distinguish. Fevers, body aches, coughing, sneezing could all be equally attributed to them both, so it really means that if there's a concern for flu, there's a concern for COVID-19."
The Final Word
If you're experiencing these symptoms and you're not sure whether it's the flu or the virus, better safe than sorry. Call your doctor to discuss whether you need to be tested for coronavirus or should self-quarantine.
100 Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Share this science-backed checklist and save a life—including yours.
You're reading a ton of information about coronavirus (more specifically, COVID-19) and what to do while we're in an active pandemic. Some of this info is spot-on; some of it's utterly bogus; some of it changes every day; most of it's scaring the pants off you. That's why we've consulted the experts to compile this comprehensive list of the most important, science-backed things you can do to slow the spread. You might think you've taken every precaution, but keep reading and lower your chances of contracting the potentially deadly virus at all costs.
First of All, Don't Panic!
Be prepared, be vigilant, be informed. But don't be panicked. We will get through this together, even if we have to temporarily remain apart. Measures like the ones you're about to read about have worked in China, where the virus first started (and where they recently logged a full day with zero reported new local infections), and South Korea.
Then Again, Don't Think You're Immune
At the same time, now isn't the time to be complacent. If you're young, you can still develop COVID-19 and serious complications—Millenials are being hospitalized—and spread coronavirus to people who are more vulnerable, like the elderly and immunocompromised, even if you're symptom free.
We'll Start With the Obvious: Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands
This is the most important protection against COVID-19. Wash your hands after being out in public, after you use the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and before preparing or consuming food—basically, as often as is practical.
Don't Touch Your Face
Germs are most often introduced into our body when we touch our eyes, nose or mouth, experts say.
Don't Wash Your Hands for Less Than 20 Seconds
Anything less would be uncivilized—and will leave germs on your hands, experts say. Do it for 20 seconds or more, or as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday"—or the theme from Full House or the Imperial March from Star Wars. Whatever it takes to get you through.
Always Wash Your Hands With Soap
Studies show that during handwashing, soap creates a chemical reaction that removes germs from your hands more efficiently than water alone. Don't use too little or too much—too much soap can prevent thorough rinsing of germs from your hands—and rinse and dry completely.
Don't Sneeze or Cough Openly
Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow—some call it "The Batman Sneeze"—or into a disposable tissue.
Don't Touch Door Handles (If You Can Help It)
Researchers have found that coronavirus can live for
two to three days
on hard surfaces like door handles. That's why it's especially important to wash your hands regularly, and push doors with your arm or elbow when possible.
Adhere to Social Distancing Recommendations
Social distancing guidelines come from a place of knowledge—they've prevented other novel viruses (like the flu of 1918) from exacting an even greater toll.
Don't Attend Large Gatherings
This week, the White House recommended that gatherings be limited to 10 people or fewer.
Don't Go to Restaurants and Bars
Many localities have closed bars and restaurants to everything but carryout and delivery
Don't Shake Hands
Not to encourage antisocial behavior, but now's a good time to substitute a handshake for a wave or an elbow bump.
Don't Hoard Face Masks
The CDC doesn't advise that healthy people wear them. And buying up supplies may keep them from the people who really need them: Healthcare workers.
Don't Hoard Food
There's no need to panic-buy food. Officials from around the U.S. and world have said there is no shortage in the food supply, and grocery stores will be restocked.
Don't Go to an ER Unless You're Seriously Ill
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, it's best to call your healthcare provider for advice. Don't go to an ER unless you're having trouble breathing; you might infect others there.
Don't Drink Too Much Alcohol
It's a scary time, but overindulging in alcohol isn't the answer. Drinking too much can raise blood pressure and reduce immunity, two factors that could make you more susceptible to COVID-19 and complications.
Don't Sleep Less
Sleep is a time when our immune system recharges, and a lack of quality sleep has been associated with other serious diseases. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.
Don't Let Anxiety Take Over
If you're feeling anxious, turn off the news and social media. Breathe deeply for a few minutes. Practice techniques that reduce anxiety and stress, including mindfulness, meditation and exercise.
Don't Forget to Check in With Others
"Social distancing only applies to physical space, not all human connections,"
from Johns Hopkins on March 17. "If you know someone who can't go outside, like an older person, call them regularly."
Don't Stop Exercising
Even though gyms may be closed in your area, daily exercise is key to staying healthy. Luckily, working out at home is easier than ever, thanks to apps and sites like Beachbody, Openfit, Aaptiv and Fitbod. Several gym chains have online workouts too.
Don't Eat Poorly
Stress eating could turn COVID-19 into the new version of the Freshman 15. Don't let it; that will only compromise your overall health.
Don't Share Bogus Information
We all want our friends, loved ones and community to stay informed about COVID-19, but make sure any information you share comes from major news sources, hospitals and health organizations like the CDC and WHO.
Don't Totally Avoid Nature
Going outside during social distancing is "more than okay. It's a good idea," the Johns Hopkins doctors said. "Just keep your distance from others. Walking, hiking and biking are good. Contact sports are a no-no. Exercise is physically and mentally important, especially in stressful times."
Self-Quarantine If You Suspect You've Been Exposed
This is key to slowing the spread of the virus, experts say. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
Self-Isolate If You Suspect You've Been Infected
If you're ill with COVID-19, it's important to occupy a separate bedroom from other members of your family if you can, and avoid sharing towels, bedding, glasses, plates and silverware until you're recovered.
Don't Touch Shopping Carts
…without wiping them down with an antibacterial wipe, or washing your hands as soon as you get home, that is.
Don't Touch Elevator Buttons
If you can help it, press these germ magnets with a knuckle or the side of your hand; it'll lower the chances you'll transfer
Don't Stock Up on Simple Carbs
When you're buying groceries, go for complex carbs, not white bread and flour, baked goods and processed foods.
Disinfect Your Cell Phone
Even in normal times, they can carry seven times more germs than the average toilet seat. Wipe them down with disinfectant daily.
Don't Feel Helpless to Help Others
These are unforeseen circumstances, but staying at home doesn't mean you're powerless to help others. Michigan Health has a
of things you can do, from donating to food and diaper banks to helping the homebound.
Don't Forget to Wash Your Hand Towels
Experts recommend washing your kitchen hand towels after two days of use, in hot water, with a bit of bleach or a product with activated oxygen bleach.
Don't Take Ibuprofen
Some European doctors have reported that taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen seems to make COVID-19 worse in some cases. They recommend taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead. This is
, but it's worth asking your healthcare provider and following their advice.
Don't Use Hand Sanitizer That's Less Than 60% Alcohol
Experts say 60% and above is necessary to kill germs.
Don't Skip a Vitamin D Supplement
Among other benefits, Vitamin D boosts the immune system.
Don't Skip the Flu Shot
If you haven't gotten one, it's not too late. It won't protect against COVID-19, but it will help protect you against the seasonal flu, which can have similar symptoms.
Don't Let Your Blood Pressure Rise
If you're on medication or a lifestyle-change regimen for high blood pressure, don't discontinue them. High blood pressure has been associated with worse outcomes for people who contract COVID-19.
Don't Skip the Veggies
As always, try to eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible—they contain vitamins, minerals and compounds that can boost your immune system.
Don't Handle Cash (If You Can Help It)
Initial reports indicate that cash might help spread coronavirus. Pay with plastic whenever possible.
Don't Touch a Public Screen Or Keypad (Without Washing Your Hands)
The checkout screens at grocery stores and keypads at banks and ATMs were notoriously germy even before the coronavirus outbreak. Bring a pen with you and use the non-writing end to press keys and give your signature.
Don't Go to Religious Services
Right now is the time to avoid crowds in general. Attend services online, or in a virtual group hangout.
Don't Use a Community Pen
Bring your own writing utensil with you anywhere you might need to use one—to the bank, doctor's office or other essential places.
Don't Blame Others
Viruses don't belong to one country or discriminate about who they infect. Blaming one country or group of people for COVID-19 isn't emotionally healthy or constructive.
Don't Have Elective Health Procedures
A number of localities, including New York City, are canceling elective, non-essential health procedures to reserve resources for coronavirus cases. Ask your healthcare provider if any of your upcoming procedures are urgent or can be rescheduled.
Don't Take a Cruise
Cruises have proven to be an effective vector for transmitting a number of viruses, including coronavirus. If you have one booked, now's a good time to reschedule or choose another diversion.
Don't Take Children to Playgrounds
While many parks and playgrounds remain open, playground equipment is rarely (if ever) disinfected.
Don't Go Out When You're Sick
If you feel ill, stay home.
Disinfect "High-Touch" Surfaces
Take a minute to wipe down other frequently touched surfaces such as computer keyboards, remote controls and light switches.
Don't Pay $96.14 For a Bottle of Hand Sanitizer
Don't encourage scalpers. Handwashing works better.
There will be time for establishing intimacy later. If you run into a friend on the street, try to stay three feet apart for the time being.
And Sorry About This One: Don't Visit the Grandparents (or Your Grandkids) In Person
Older people are more susceptible to complications from COVID-19. Move any visits to FaceTime for the time being.
If You're Thinking Negatively, Flip the Script
Although times can be scary, try to engage in self-talk that's positive and constructive. "We'll get through this" and "I'm doing the best I can" are two good examples. They may sound corny but they really work.
Don't Forget to Make Time For Yourself
Your plate may be full of remote work and caring for a partner, children and other family members. But it's important to allot regular time for yourself, whether it's exercise, meditation, indulging in a favorite TV show, reading a book or taking a long bath.
Don't OD on News
Using TV news as background noise, or constantly checking news sites, may not be helpful and can lead to anxiety. Pick a reputable news site, and check in briefly once or twice a day.
Your Checklist—Check in With it!
Create a checklist of things you'd like to get done, and hold yourself to it each day.
Don't Slack on Your Routine
Get up and go to bed at a regular time. Wake up, shower, get dressed as if you were going to work or heading out. Eat well—and regularly—and exercise. Start work at the same time each day, and have an end of day—don't just keep working all night.
Try Not to Work From the Bed
Create a work-from-home space for yourself; your own desk, if a whole room isn't available. It'll help you maintain a routine and stay focused.
Breaks—You Need 'Em
When you're working from home, don't let it expand to fill your entire day. Give yourself a lunch hour and at least two 15-minute breaks.
Set Boundaries—and Stick to Them
If you're working from home with a spouse and/or children around, establish clear guidelines about when you'll be available and when you must concentrate on work.
Don't Fade Away From Your Co-Workers
If you work on a team, check in with your boss and/or co-workers at an established time. It'll help you keep focused and targeted and will be good for your mental health.
It's OK: Give Yourself a "Worry Window"
The executive director of UNICEF recently
shared this tip
on social media: As things worry you throughout the day, write them down, and put the list aside. Then give yourself a few minutes a day to look over the list and worry. Then put those things out of your mind. It's an effective strategy for reducing free-floating anxiety.
Don't Take Life for Granted—Keep a Gratitude Journal
This time-tested therapy for anxiety and depression can be especially helpful now: Each day, write down three things you're grateful for that day. They can be as basic as the roof over your head or the food you have to eat.
Remember You Can't Predict the Future
Predictions about the economic repercussions of COVID-19 can be alarming. But remember that none of us has a crystal ball; we don't know how things are going to turn out. They could be much better than predicted.
Be Careful About Talking With Kids
"Don't put your adult's brain into a child's brain," advises
Dr. Joyce Mikal-Flynn
, who works with trauma survivors. Be a calming presence, and if a child asks you a question, "answer that question and just that question–don't go overboard. Then ask, 'Is there something else you want to ask me?'" Make it clear that asking questions is always OK, and if you don't know the answer, you can look it up together.
Don't Follow the Rumor Mill
Don't concentrate on speculation or rumors—and unfortunately, a lot of news reports right now are one, the other or both. Focus on facts about COVID-19, how it spreads, how serious it is, and where we are by reading the latest updates on the CDC and WHO websites.
Talk About Anything But Coronavirus
When you call or video-chat with friends and family, be open and share your worries about the current situation. But don't let that be your entire conversation. Talk about something great on TV, a book you're reading, a meal you've cooked or pop-culture nonsense—anything to get your mind off coronavirus for a minute.
Reschedule That Date
Unfortunately, now is the time to give the dating apps a rest for a little while.
Don't Ignore Cleaning Product Labels
As you disinfect your home, be aware of the ingredients of and warnings on the products you buy, and follow any listed instructions.
Don't Spray Lysol on Yourself
You might be tempted to spray yourself down after a trip outside. "Do not do this. There is no fine line — it is a bad idea," cleaning expert Jolie Kerr told Vox this week. Disinfectants like Lysol can be harmful if inhaled, and their ingredients can cause skin irritation or burns. Wash your hands thoroughly instead; it's your best protection.
Don't Mix Products
Cleaning products with ammonia should never be mixed with bleach, and vinegar should never be mixed with products containing hydrogen peroxide, says Kerr. The combinations can create gases that are harmful to the eyes, nose and respiratory system.
Don't Spray Down Your Mail
It's not necessary to disinfect your mail or cardboard packages before you open them. Just wash your hands thoroughly after touching them, and dispose of them outside your home if possible.
Know the Facts About COVID-19 and Children
Children are not at higher risk for coronavirus,
the CDC says
. But they can still become ill or transmit the virus to more vulnerable people.
Don't Scare Your Kids; Teach Them
The CDC recommends
teaching kids to do the things you're doing to reduce spread of the virus: Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, stay home if you're sick, clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily, and launder items according to manufacturer's instructions, in the warmest possible water.
Don't Give Children Face Masks
Limit Children's Social Interactions
The CDC recommends that playdates and group outings should be minimized for the time being, as well as any visits with older adults like grandparents.
One More Thing About the Little Ones: Assure Them They'll Be Safe
The most important thing to tell children about COVID-19 is that you'll do everything possible to keep them safe, says
Karen Swartz, MD
, a psychiatrist with Johns Hopkins Medicine. Their anxiety levels may be high because of news and social media, and this reassurance can go a long way.
Encourage Young People to Reschedule Trips
Older children should reschedule non-essential travel to crowded areas, the CDC says.
Stress May Be Quarantined With You, But He is Not Your Friend
Stress increases the level of cortisol in the body, a hormone that can inhibit the immune system.
Avoid Screens Before Bed
This is an especially important time to practice good sleep hygiene to ensure you get quality rest. To avoid insomnia, avoid looking at laptops, tablets and cellphones for a few hours before turning in.
Don't Let Yourself Get Overwhelmed
Feeling overwhelmed can lead to stress and panic, which taxes your immune system. If you feel like things are getting to be too much to handle, give yourself a time-out. Do some relaxation exercises or a pleasurable activity that you enjoy.
Don't Forget to Drink That Water
Drinking water isn't a miracle cure for COVID-19, but it has plenty of benefits, from moistening mucous membranes to improving metabolism. Aim to drink five to seven cups of water a day.
If You've Read This Far, Take a Moment and Breathe Deeply
If you're feeling anxious, take a moment to concentrate on your breath. Breathe in for a count of four, then slowly release the breath for another count of four. Repeat until you feel yourself begin to relax. It's simple but one of the most effective anti-anxiety exercises around.
Don't Check the News Before Bed
For a few hours before bed, read a book, meditate, listen to music—anything but check the news. It'll be there in the morning.
Let Yourself Laugh More
Laughter reduces stress, eases tension, improves circulation—and studies show it can also reduce inflammation and bolster your immune system.
Avoid Non-Essential Flights
The CDC currently advises against non-essential plane travel for older adults. It's a good idea for everyone.
Take Advantage of Telehealth
See if you can schedule telemedicine sessions for any doctor's appointments you can't miss. In fact, many doctors nor prefer this, given the contagiousness of COVID-19.
Who is Your Emergency Contact?
If you don't have a designated person to reach out to in an emergency, now's a good time to establish one. That contact can apprise caregivers of any essential information and contact other family members in the event you need care or are hospitalized.
Do Not Hold a Blowdryer Up To Your Nose (Please)
A Florida politician
that blowing a hairdryer up your nose can cure coronavirus. Shockingly, this is not true. Be skeptical about any folk remedies circulating online. Follow the advice of your healthcare provider and reputable health organizations.
Pick a Time of Day to Address Relationship Conflict
Stressed about sharing space with a partner all day and getting on their nerves? Swartz recommends picking a specific time of day to discuss any areas of conflict briefly, then concentrating on avoiding arguments for the rest of the day.
If You Live Alone, Make a Network
If you're flying solo, take this time to connect with other people who live alone. Swartz suggests using a program like FaceTime or Zoom to hold group chats, start a virtual book club or movie discussion group.
Sometimes we have to force our minds away from negative thoughts, like changing the channel, says Swartz. For example: Instead of thinking "this is a disaster and things will never be the same again," think, "This is a challenging time, but we'll get through it."
Keep a File of Positive Thoughts
Think of some things that make you happy—it could be a great memory, an event, a family member, a comedian or cute cat videos. Whatever those are, keep them at top of mind. When you feel yourself getting stressed or anxious, replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.
Don't Sleep Too Much
Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining your health. But don't overcorrect and hibernate in bed; that can lead to depression.
Do Things You Enjoy
To reduce stress and anxiety, take this time to reconnect with things you enjoy doing but might have let fall by the wayside—whether it's reading, crafting, writing, listening to music, looking at art online or working on things around the house.
Don't Take Antibiotics Without Guidance
They only cure bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, and antibiotics won't clear it. Only take antibiotics on the advice of your healthcare provider.
Don't Take Colloidal Silver
Don't believe online rumors that colloidal silver is effective against coronavirus. In fact, on March 9, the FDA warned seven companies to stop selling silver products they claimed cure the coronavirus.
Don't Take Chloroquine Phosphate
This week an Arizona man died, and his wife became seriously ill, after the couple ingested chloroquine phosphate, an additive used to clean fish tanks. President Trump had touted the antimalarial drug chloroquine as a potential coronavirus cure.
Don't Count on a Hot Water Cure
A widely circulated internet rumor claims that drinking hot water will kill the coronavirus. This is not true. The disease affects the respiratory system, not the digestive tract. Do, however, get plenty of fluids, when you're healthy and anytime you're sick.
Don't Take Megadoses of Vitamins
No vitamin or supplement has been proven to combat COVID-19. And taking high doses of various vitamins can have side effects that range from minor (stomach irritation) to serious (toxicity). Instead, eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables to bolster your immune system.
Don't Drink or Inhale Iodine
One online rumor maintains that drinking or inhaling liquid iodine can be a COVID-19 remedy. This is not true. What's more, the practice can be seriously harmful.
Remember That "This Too Shall Pass"
Because it will. This is a chapter in history, not the rest of your future.
One Final Thought
If each and every one of us follow this simple checklist, we can get through this pandemic with fewer infections and fewer deaths. Please forward it to someone you care about, so they can do the same.