In this new reality that we all live in, COVID-19 has changed everything. The coronavirus pandemic is anxiety producing because we do not know how long it will be until we can look back at COVID-19 with less than fond memories. New social distancing measures to reduce the spread of the virus are still coming week by week. These new changes have forced us to make important, but not easy, choices.
College kids on the beaches of Florida was a bad optic, but easy to understand from their point of view. When you see yourself as unlikely to be personally affected by the virus, it is hard to give up spring break. At the opposite extreme are health-care workers who have responded quickly to this crisis and are risking exposure every day.
We will get through this. It is important to recognize that this pandemic will be over at some point in the future and life will go on as it did before.
Here are 10 reasons to stay optimistic:
- Social distancing remains crucial as a way to decrease exposure and flatten the exposure curve. The positive: Better hygiene will be practiced in the future. We should have been doing much of this anyway to reduce this risk of getting a cold or the flu. For example, handshaking will likely never be popular again, as we likely never realized that we spread germs as we greet our friends.
- Exercising daily is one of the most important things you can do, both for physical and mental health, and walking is one of the best exercises that there is. The positive: Use this crisis as a reason to stay in shape and get outside.
- Winter is over. It would be that much worse to be stuck indoors if we were battling two feet of snow. The positive: We have more daylight now to encourage us to be outdoors after we’ve finished working.
- We are quickly developing new treatments and potentially a vaccine. The positive: Although the end is not yet in sight, it will be.
- We are all coming together over this crisis. The cooperation with industry, pharmaceutical companies, states and the federal government, all of which are quickly mobilizing, is reminiscent of efforts not seen since World War ll. The positive: Acts of kindness such as people stepping up and sewing face masks for friends and health-care workers shows a tenacity in the face of adversity that is encouraging.
- Recent reports on certain medications called ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers suggested that stopping them may help prevent the corona virus. Do not stop these medications, as your blood pressure will go up. At this time, there is no evidence that these medications are harmful in any way. The positive: there are many good sources available to help combat misinformation.
- The same is true for ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil). Recent reports that it may make COVID-19 more severe lack any good scientific foundation. If you need ibuprofen, then you should continue to take it. The positive: Even if you choose to avoid ibuprofen, many physicians believe that acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a better medication to take if you have a fever.
- Do not begin taking chloroquine at this time to try to prevent getting COVID-19. I have had several patients contact me and ask whether I would start them on this medication, long used for prevention and treatment of malaria, and to treat lupus. Although it may have a role in the future, there are reports of shortages for those who really need it. The positive: This is just the first of many possible therapies to come in the future.
- There will be treatments available in the future for COVID-19. Medical innovation will develop therapies that will help. It is hard right now to see through the haze of the unknown. The positive: This haze will lift.
- Things will get better. Increased anxiety may lead us to pursue treatments that don’t work, could be harmful, and are still unproven. As hard as it may be, we have to give our researchers more time. The positive: They are working harder and faster to help us.