High risk doesn’t have to come at high cost to others

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Opinion section
Valley News - Opinion

I’m high risk.

No, that’s not a comment on my financial portfolio or some strange propensity to do something ridiculous like jump out of a perfectly good airplane. I’m high risk for the coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19.

I’m a 54-old-woman with a compromised immune system and asthma. Because of those issues, according to my doctor and guidance released by the Riverside County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I need to stay home.

Older adults and people with heart disease, lung disease or diabetes are at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19, and that is a fact. According to CDC statistics, eight out of 10 people diagnosed with the virus are age 65 or older.

People with asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 which can affect the respiratory tract, cause an asthma attack and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease. People with asthma should avoid contact with others and take their medications as prescribed daily as well as avoid triggers. I know I am.

Among adults with confirmed COVID-19 reported in the U.S., an estimated 31% to 59% of adults ages 65 and older will require hospitalization and an estimated 31% to 70% of those aged 85 or older will require hospitalization. Even though at this time, it is only an estimate, it’s a concerning number.

Just last night, I watched a PSA put out by Mel Brooks and his son Max Brooks. Laced with humor as only Mel Brooks can do, the PSA ends with Max and Mel Brooks saying, “Don’t be a spreader,” and that folks, is good advice.

“When it comes to coronavirus, I have to think about who I can infect and so should you,” Max Brooks said in the video after pointing out that if he were to give it to his 93-year-old father, the consequences could be dire.

“Before I know it, I could wipe out a whole generation of comedic legends,” Max Brooks said.

Remember that COVID-19 takes two to 14 days to incubate, so if you have an elderly person in your life, you could easily share the virus without even knowing you have it. So, practice that social distancing.

I know that staying home is an inconvenience and can be at times quite boring, but by thinking outside the box – I play Uno with my niece and nephews in Arizona almost daily using a video chat app I installed on my phone for free to pass the time – you can keep that boredom at bay.

What you can do

If you are high risk, you should stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact with others of 6 feet or more. If you must go to the store, many are now offering senior hours for those 63 and older so take advantage of those special shopping hours. Many of them occur early in the morning when the store is just opening so it’s clean and freshly disinfected.

Other things you can do to stay healthy include washing your hands often, avoiding all cruise travel and nonessential air travel and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in your home. To disinfect surfaces, you can use a mix of 1/3 cup of bleach with a gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach with 1 quart of water.

If you have concerns about COVID-19 and an underlying health condition or if you are sick, you should call your family doctor.

Oh, and if you are looking for a good laugh, search Google for “Mel Brooks don’t be a spreader,” it’s worth the 50 seconds of your life, and it’s not like you have anywhere to go anyway.

For more information on steps you can take to stay safe, see CDC’s “How to Protect Yourself,” available online at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at valleyeditor@reedermedia.com.