The idiot’s guide to coronavirus from an emergency physician

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1. Wash your hands like your life depends on it. Because it does. Not only for Corona, but for the many germs you’ll acquire from touching elevator buttons, doorknobs, or somebody else’s hand. Or the dirtiest thing on earth: money: Everybody handles it, and nobody washes it. Except for the mob. And me, when I forget it in my pockets.

2. Stay home if you’re sick. Same with your children.

3. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Shared pens. Door handles. Water taps and toilet flushes.

4. Avoid meetings and crowded spaces, especially those hard to leave from, like planes, conferences, and churches.

5. If you want to chill with your friends, go outside: go skiing, hiking or skating rather than bowling, clubbing or the movies. More fresh air and fewer germs.

6. Cough and sneeze in your elbow or shoulder or in a tissue, not in your hand.

7. Stay away from those who sneeze, cough, or look sick.

8. Vaccinate. There’s no vaccine for Corona yet, I know. Still, more people have died from flu this year than they did from Corona all over the world.

9. If you have a fever and body aches, take Motrin or Tylenol, stay home and call your doctor.

10. Don’t touch your face or pick your nose. It only contains what it always does, boogers. But if you must, at least wash your hands first. And after.

11. Keep well hydrated with water, Gatorade, or the fluid of your choice. Note: Corona beer isn’t named after the virus, isn’t infused with it, and it won’t give you the disease. Unless you share the bottle with somebody who’s sick.

12. Remember that, unless you’re old and ill, you’ll likely recover fully, even if you catch it. Better odds than for bike crashes, bad investments, and fights with your spouse.

13. Make sure you have advanced directives. This isn’t about Corona. It’s about being prepared and in control of your life no matter what happens.

14. Rest, relax, and live healthily. Stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and poor hygiene will weaken your immune system. Get enough sleep, eat well, and wash your hands. Again.

Don’t: 

1. Don’t shake hands. You don’t know where their hands have been, and you don’t want to get whatever they acquired there. Smile instead.

2. Don’t eat, drink or scratch your face if you haven’t just washed your hands really well with water, soap, and enthusiasm. Wash them like the toilet paper was too thin.

3. Don’t visit all-you-can-eat buffets, and don’t try food samples. Remember the celebrity who licked a doughnut then put it back? She’s not the only one. Sitting by the table of a buffet dinner cured me of buffet dinners. The things people do when they think nobody’s watching will make you shudder.

4. Don’t share masks.

5. Don’t go visit grandma in the nursing home if you have the sniffles. Call her instead.

6. Don’t go to the ER unless you’re deathly ill, immunocompromised, or really bored. You’ll spend a long time there, get loads of rotten looks, get irradiated, and get a hefty bill to pay, plus everybody else’s germs. The one thing you’re unlikely to get is a straight answer since testing kits are still hard to come by.

7. Don’t eat things that aren’t supposed to be eaten. Avoid pangolin, bats, civet cats, and bush meat. Avoid socializing with them too.

8. Don’t expect a Corona vaccine before next year. Vaccines take a long time to develop, because: 1) They need to work. 2) They need to be safe. That takes time and testing.

9. Don’t have unprotected sex. Not Corona specific, other than sharing body fluids, but it’s good advice. Other viruses like HIV and Herpes, also Syphilis, Chlamydia, and their other friends are looking for a loving host. Don’t let it be you.

10. Don’t call the ER to ask if they’re busy. They’re busy. Even if they weren’t, they wouldn’t give medical advice by phone. Call your doctor, and wait for them to call back. They will, as soon as they catch up with the sick and the many worried-well.

11. Don’t rub yourself all over with garlic. That’s not for Corona, that’s for vampires. Though, if you eat raw garlic, most people are likely to keep their viruses away from you.

12. Don’t share an ice cream cone, water bottles, or cutlery. Don’t let people taste your food, and don’t try theirs, no matter how good it looks.

13. Don’t drink bleach. It won’t help. Unless you inhale it, bleach goes to your stomach, while the virus targets your lungs. It will hurt, A LOT, as it burns your throat.

14. Don’t believe all the stuff you read on social media. Misinformation has become an infodemic.

15. Don’t share it either. Prayer is good for the soul, but it’s unlikely to destroy the virus. Corona is not a hoax, a democratic ploy, or a biological weapon released by the Chinese. It’s not invented by vaccine companies to make money. Otherwise, they’d sell it to you now. Elderberry, vitamins of any persuasion, or getting exorcised are unlikely to help. Wash your hands.

Rada Jones is an emergency physician and can be reached at her self-titled site, RadaJonesMD, and on Twitter @jonesrada. She is the author of Stay Away From My ER, and other fun bits of wisdomMercy, and Overdose.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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