Virus Support Circles

Surviving Coronavirus: What Else Can We Do?

As the incidence of COVID-19 cases increase geometrically across the US, the recommendations from the “experts” seem to be rather inadequate. In addition to washing hands and not touching our faces (and who can actually DO that one?), and stocking up on food and medications in case of quarantine or illness, what else can we do?

Although I am not panicking, my intuition is putting up caution flags about the likely impacts of coronavirus on our lives through the rest of this year. And as a pet lover and owner, I find myself concerned about their care in the event I should become sick or require hospitalization. Who will look after my furry kids and make sure they are fed and walked?

I imagine most caregivers are feeling similar concerns, whether it’s pets, children, elderly, or disabled people. Who is your backup, and what happens if they also take sick?

Here’s an idea. Given that novel coronavirus seems to sicken around 20% of affected people, and that 2-5% end up seriously ill, how do we intelligently prepare for the wave of infection that will likely sweep over our town or city sometime in the not-too-distant future? Our public health systems seem to be responding slowly, so we may need to rely on our ourselves to get through this.

Virus Support Circles

I recommend forming Virus Support Circles of about 5 unrelated people. Enlisting 4 other people who don’t live in the same household would increase the likelihood that no more than one of the 5 would get seriously sick from the virus, since the odds appear to be that 80% of those affected only get mild symptoms, if any.

Members of the Circle could exchange information and even house keys (or the location of hidden keys) in the event a member takes sick or, in the worst-case scenario, needs to be hospitalized. They would make an agreement to look after one another’s pets, or kids, or garden—whatever. Or bring groceries, or a meal, or pick up medications.

They could write up guidelines for caring for their loved ones: pets, kids, elders, etc., and post them in an accessible place. And list their emergency contacts—who to call if they are unable to do it themselves. And perhaps legal info as well.

We can hope that the healthcare, first responder, and social service agencies will be able to step in when there is need, but observing the breakdowns in Italy highlight how those systems can get overloaded quickly. Let’s think ahead and make plans. Even though the incidence of Covid-19 may be low in your neighborhood today, by all accounts it grows geometrically and can gain momentum fast.

Don’t panic, prepare.