Wash your hands.
You may be thinking right about now that my role is to give out spiritual/ethical/moral guidance rather than hygiene advice. You’re right. It is my responsibility, however, to address the worries I see around me — and some of us are worried about the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
Step 1: Get informed. When it feels like there’s a lot of noise and hubbub around a topic, I try to get informed as clearly as I can. I like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website here: https://www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html This site will be updated with new information, unlike a news article.
What I learned from this website is that the prevention protocol for COVID-19 is the same procedure we al- ready use for preventing other respiratory illnesses like flus and colds. Stay home when you’re sick. Get your flu shot every year. (A flu shot won’t prevent colds, COVID-19, or other respiratory illnesses, but it is part of the overall prevention protocol.) Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Wash your hands.
Step 2: W ash your hands. Yes, really. Each of us washes our hands many times per day (or at least I hope so) as opposed to getting a flu shot once per year. Wash your hands to protect yourself and the people you meet. But also, any time you do a repetitive action in good faith, you have the opportunity to use it as a centering moment. Instead of singing “Happy Birthday” as a timer, why not sing “Spirit of Life”? Or use the handwashing time to be aware of your hands, mindful of each of your fingers and the surfaces of your hands?
Step 3: Share space and touch respectfully. Stay home when you’re sick, really, unless you’re going out for medical help. We’ll miss you, but we understand and want you to heal rather than infect more people. If you have a fever, stay home until 24 hours after the fever is gone and you’ve been off fever-reducing drugs for 24 hours. Dayquil may make you feel better, but it doesn’t keep you from getting other people sick. If you need someone to drop off soup, we can hook you up. If you must go out, cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow and avoid touching people or things other people touch. We trust you when you tell us it’s not a good day to hold hands or hug.
As of current news, we don’t have reasons to be more worried about COVID-19 than about the current strains of flu. I’ll continue to greet you with handshakes, hugs, and smiles as you prefer.
Lunch with the Minister on Tuesday, March 24, 1:00 p.m.