In case you’ve missed it, we’re looking at a new and contagious epidemic virus. Novel coronavirus (COVID 19) is burning through the human population. It started in snakes and jumped over to humans in China and Iran (and people who have recently been to China and Iran are not welcome to cross US borders at this time … yes, even citizens coming back from those countries have sit in quarantine for two weeks before they’re allowed into contact with other humans in the USA), and Italy is now on the US State Department’s travel advisory list (postpone that trip you’ve got planned). It’s already here in New York State. Estimates from credible sources indicate that the virus will be widespread in the USA by mid-March or early April. That’s … like … now.
This virus is new (hence its name of NOVEL coronavirus). We have never been exposed to it. We have no immune exposure to it. Our immune systems do not know what to do with this new thing. Cure is not available, though symptomatic support is.
So what’s a human to do?
First, if you’re sick … even if you just think you have a cold, if you’re “just coughing,” or “just sneezing” … STAY AWAY FROM OTHER HUMANS. Stay home. Governor Cuomo has, and has indicated that he will exercise, quarantine powers. Don’t make him exercise those powers. Quarantine yourself. If you’re my client and you’re sick, even with just a cold, contact me to postpone your appointment until you feel better. I will do the same for you.
Don’t shake hands. With ANYONE. This virus is evidently transmitted through water droplets entering the nose and mouth. Water droplets bearing coronavirus can live on the hands of the person whose hand you shake. You then pass it along to the next person you shake hands with.
Wipe surfaces with germicidal wipes. Grocery carts, bathroom doors, elevator buttons (use only your knuckle to press an elevator button). Lysol® Is Your New Best Friend.
Wash your hands often like you’ve just cut up a jalapeño pepper and you have to take out a contact lens. By “often,” I mean anytime you come in contact with anything another human may have touched. Seems extreme, but so does pneumonia from coronavirus.
Don’t touch your nose or mouth. That’s how this bug gets into your system. Wear a bandana and eyeglasses if you must to remind yourself to keep your hands off your face. But don’t buy face masks; let the health care workers have those.
I spent all of $0.99 on Amazon.com to get an e-book with a formula for homemade hand sanitizer. It may be the best $0.99 I ever spent since the public panic will lead to a dearth of commercially available hand sanitizer.
Coronavirus is an emergent epidemic. As such, it is a public health issue that is likely to have significant legal ramifications. Quarantine is a significant infringement of individual rights … think “imprisonment.” Denying citizens reentry into their country without quarantine is a significant infringement of individual rights (think “can’t go home”). At the same time, individuals must, in such a time, give way to public safety issues. Quarantine keeps the public safe; so does denying immediate entry, pending quarantine results, to people coming in from infected areas. It’s a balancing act, and, like all balancing acts, we may get it wrong to begin with. But me, I’d rather err on the side of caution when dealing with a new virus. I’ll give up my right to leave my house if it keeps even my pissy next-door neighbors safe from an infection I may have contracted.
There Will Be Lawsuits. It’s going to be a litigious mess. However, if we all proactively act to prevent catching it and spreading it ourselves, those ramifications will be lessened. If we don’t, they won’t.
We’re in for a siege. Get ready for it.