There’s no question that coronavirus took us all by storm. None of us could have prepared for such a pandemic, and none of us could have predicted that it would be continuously prolonged. But now that we are here, coronavirus is changing the way each of us thinks about public health and our role in it, especially when it comes to personal hygiene, not only at home but at work as well.
Everyone will have so much new knowledge about public and personal health. Personal cleanliness will mean something new after this. Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water has been something we were taught as children. It is imperative that everyone puts soap on their hands and uses both hands to rub them together and wash to ensure that the soap is evenly distributed for at least 20 seconds. Afterward get a clean paper towel and dry off your hands, then turn the water off, and use the paper towel to open the door to exit. Using this cleaning tactic will protect against germs. What’s interesting is that we expect restaurant personnel to wash their hands regularly, yet we never considered that not washing hands could contribute to a worldwide pandemic. I’d say this predicament is teaching us all a lesson in health and wellness.
Coronavirus will also change the way we think about public space. Carol Winner, M.S.E., M.P.H., founder of give space, an awareness campaign about the importance of personal space, says she anticipated social distancing and an enforced quarantine in January; she believes Hollywood events, concerts, and other public events won’t make a comeback for at least a year or more.
“The universally known handshake may become obsolete,” she said in an interview. “The way we engage with others and show affection will change forever. Giving space to others will become even more important post-pandemic.”
Life as we knew it will never be the same after everything settles. Such a pandemic will urge us all to be more prepared when a next time occurs. As Winner says, “History will repeat itself”—and our new knowledge of personal and public health can keep us prepared. The quarantine has made us all appreciate things we’ve taken for granted, such as being able to go shopping, catch a movie, or take kids to the park. It’s funny how much you appreciate once you don’t have the accessibility, kind of like the gratitude you have for being able to breathe easily after getting over a cold.
In the absence of our president being proactive and taking initiative, it has been great to see amazing people step up and provide tutorials on skills such as hand washing. In the video below, Dr. Ronx Ikharia, a British emergency medicine doctor, shows you how to meticulously wash your hands for 20 seconds while singing “Happy Mother’s Day.” Throughout this entire pandemic, people have been showing kindness and humanitarianism, which is something the world has been missing.
Winner says preparedness, surveillance and intelligence, environmental practices, health education, and quality care for Americans should all play a part in the betterment of the nation moving forward. She also believes that coronavirus will keep everything on pause at least until July or August.
People are also noticing how much the public health workforce is overworked and underappreciated, especially in terms of pay. They have families, friends, and lives that have been put on hold because of the coronavirus. They are working daily and diligently to provide top-notch services to patients, while they are going without the proper amount of sleep, food, and mental relief. Average pay for a registered nurse is $29.62 an hour. And the average pay for essential workers such as a cashier at the local grocery store is $12 an hour. They shouldn’t be called “essential workers”—sacrificial would be more befitting.
I’ve learned that uncertainties are scary. In life you can only plan so much, because the unexpected will come. This pandemic has been life-altering, as the quarantine is something I’ve never experienced. I think the major shock factor is that I couldn’t prepare for it, which sparks my anxiety. I am coping well and staying home, but I do go out sometimes to get groceries (with a mask on, and sometimes gloves) and to clear my head. I was never an avid hand-sanitizer user, so incorporating that into my daily life has been weird; I’ve always washed my hands regularly, I’ve just doubled up for extreme precaution.
There have been great things that have sprung about due to coronavirus and should remain, such as social distancing, cooking at home, personal hygiene upkeep, and kindness for humanity. Have you ever been in line at the supermarket and felt like someone was so close behind you that they were practically breathing down your neck? That needs to be left in 2019. Cooking at home has been a personal win for me, as I am cooking and eating healthier, which will lead to weight loss, and I consider myself a “top chef.” Personal hygiene is just mandatory for all, period. And people have been noticeably more helpful, kind, and willing to support and look out for one another, especially the elderly, which hasn’t been a thing in a long time. A means to care is something we’ve all needed, and to see it is something extremely beautiful that I’m hoping will stay.
It’s safe to say that once this is all over, we’ll all have a better appreciation for public health, those in the public health workforce, and humanity. We are all experiencing this pandemic together, and unity is what we need, while practicing social distancing, of course. Now is the time to support one another and help each other. I know I will have the deepest gratitude for life after this is over. I don’t take it lightly that I am alive each day that I wake. The news is engulfed with outrageous reports of death by the coronavirus daily; certain things such as going to the grocery store, the park, or even the library will be things I cherish from here on out. What will you appreciate once we’re cleared to come out of the quarantine?