Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Life as we know it has changed

Life as we know it has changed.

This is not a hyperbolic exaggeration or a metaphor to paint a picture; it is reality. You and I are living different that we were a month ago so we can take personal accountability and help save lives by abiding by precautionary measures. The COVID-19 virus is not a respecter of income or geography and it doesn’t care about your job title, politics, or last name.

One of the most important things we can do is shelter-in-place and quarantine ourselves. Social distancing polices ask us not to congregate in groups larger than 10 people and to maintain a bubble of 6 feet when we have to interact with others. For a lot of us, this might be inconvenient or tiresome, but it’s not difficult because we have homes to provide sanctuary.  But what happen if you are homeless or living in a shelter? 

Homelessness presents unique and immense challenges on its own, but this current pandemic increases every problem to potentially lethal levels. Basic things like hand-washing and sanitation prove to be life and death matters when there is no access for these amenities. 

COVID-19 or novel coronavirus has symptoms similar to the flu. People with symptoms have fevers, coughs and also shortness of breath. The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). This happens by droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes getting into another person’s mouth, nose, or lungs. If a person touches a surface, object, or a sick person’s hand that has the virus on it from the sick person’s cough/sneeze droplets, the virus can infect the well person when they touch their own mouth or nose. Most people recover without medical intervention and have mild symptoms. But certain people do face a higher risk of having more severe symptoms, including pneumonia. Those folks tend to be older, have weakened immune systems or have underlying medical conditions (things like heart or lung diseases).

Hand-washing is important, but access to hand-washing facilities is limited for folks living without shelter. Sanitizer is also effective. If someone is sick, it will help them not spread germs from their lungs or nose to other things they touch. If they are well, it will help them not pick up germs from things they touch and spread them to their mouth, nose or eyes.

Folks should do what they can to avoid touching their noses, eyes, and mouths. Cover coughs: Any cough, even if someone otherwise feels well, should be covered — not with someone’s hands but by coughing into an elbow, a mask or a bandana. As much as possible, encourage those you’re working with to limit sharing personal items, particularly cigarettes, food, phones, utensils and other items.

Use disinfectant wipes that say “kills human coronavirus” on the back. Follow the instructions on the label. Most important is to not dry off whatever is wiped with sanitizer or a wipe. Whatever is wiped will need to stay wet for the amount of time listed on the label. This step is important because that contact time is what is required to kill the germs.  Wipes can be used to clean high-touch items like phones and other surfaces.

Samaritan House is doing all we can to help provide safe shelter for those who need it. We welcome and appreciate any and all donations at this time. Thank you for partnering with us as we face a new reality together.

*Information courtesy of National Alliance to End Homelessness