Coronavirus Cheat Sheet

Everything you need to stay healthy, happy, and help others

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Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash
  • Staying healthy or recovering quickly if you catch the disease
  • Not infecting others, especially those weaker and more fragile than you
  • Taking precautions for isolation without getting paranoid
  • Finding a new, comfortable, productive daily rhythm
  • Managing your mental health to stay happy and motivated
  • Relying on verified information from the right sources
  • Measures taken in other cities that don’t affect you or those you know
  • Opinions of public figures that dramatize or downplay the situation
  • Which way the stock market went and what’ll happen to the economy
  • Conspiracy theories from less than trustworthy sources

Table of contents

This is a step-by-step guide, but depending on your situation, some sections will be more relevant than others. Click the links below to jump around.

1. How to stay calm
2. How to stay healthy
3. How to not infect others
4. How to recover quickly if you’re sick
5. How to prepare for staying at home a lot
6. How to be productive when working from home
7. How to stay sane, busy, happy, and entertained
8. Where to get the facts

How to stay calm

Calmness is the first of my life’s values because if I’m not calm, I can’t act rationally, compassionately, lovingly, or even in a disciplined manner. Right now, many people make a lot of money by stealing your calm. Don’t let them.

Breathe

With a 24-hour live stream of breaking news, it’s easy to spend your entire day in fight-or-flight mode. Heightened blood pressure, elevated heart rate, stress, cortisol, adrenaline. That’s not a state in which we make good decisions.

Pause, then plan

The point of breathing, pausing, and putting some time between getting new information and reacting to it is to form a better response with a better outcome for yourself and others.

How to stay healthy

The chief objective for you as an individual is to not get sick. This will allow you to a.) survive and b.) help others. Here are the most important steps.

Wash your hands

When? After coming home, before eating, during cooking, when you cough or sneeze into them, and, of course, after touching animals or going to the toilet. Basically, whenever you’ve used them in a way that could leave them dirty or exposed to infectious particles. Don’t settle into a relaxing phase of the day without washing your hands first.

Wear a mask or make one yourself

So far, the general advice has been, “Wear a mask when you’re sick but not otherwise.” This tide is now turning, as “6 out of 7 studies showed that face masks (surgical and N95) offered significant protection against SARS,” per Adrien Burch, Ph.D.. Wearing masks in public reduced SARS risk by 70%, and even fabric masks helped to an extent. These findings aren’t definitive, but give an idea of how useful masks could be in fighting Covid-19.

Disinfect exposed, commonly used items

The number one candidate here is your phone. Others are your wallet, keys, laptop, handbag or laptop, and accessories. Avoid paying cash if you can, cards don’t need to exchange hands to work. Clean your kitchen surfaces right after cooking, and don’t let trash, dust, or dirt accumulate for long.

Make an effort to touch your face less

On average, we touch our face 300+ times a day. Washing your hands frequently reduces the risk of said touches getting the virus into your system, but the more you can avoid them altogether, the better. It’s hard, since it’s an incredibly strong, subconscious human behavior, but you can at least try.

Don’t leave your house if you don’t have to

This is an extreme measure for an extreme situation, but it’s dead serious. Every little cheat compromises the integrity of this global effort. Take a walk when you feel you’re going crazy, maybe combine it with getting groceries, but no parties, play dates, large gatherings, or hanging around in crowded places without good reason. This is not supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to keep you healthy. More on getting the fun back in other ways later.

When you’re outside, maintain a 3–6 foot distance

Unless you have sick family members, how much physical separation you practice at home is your call. Whenever you’re outside, however, especially around people you don’t know, keep your distance. WHO suggests three feet, the CDC up to six. Also, if you haven’t already, stop shaking people’s hands. It’s been a disease catalyst for centuries, and we need that now less than ever. I hope we can return to bro hugs when this is over, but for now, avoid high fives, hugs, and cheek kisses.

How to not infect others

On top of protecting yourself, washing your hands, wearing a mask, and social distancing also serve not infecting others. Here’s what else you can do.

Don’t visit friends and family over 50

The mortality rate for coronavirus jumps 3x when moving from the 40s to the 50s age bracket, and it only goes up from there. The simplest way to protect those over 50 is to not hang out with them. I know, it’s tough. Call your grandparents, skype with your parents, use your spare time to write letters — whatever you do, don’t visit. Right now, you’re doing them a service.

Let friends and family know you’re worried about them

Even if you don’t visit the older people in your life, they might still be inclined to go out on their own, thinking “it’s not so bad.” It’s normal for our thinking to become more rigid as we get older, but in this case, it could literally kill us.

Be extra considerate in keeping your distance from the elderly

If an old man is ahead of you in line at the grocery store, take two steps back. If you must sneeze in aisle three, sneeze into your elbow, not the fruit section. When you’re waiting to pick up your food after an elderly couple, stand outside. Don’t get me wrong: Talk to people. Just do so from a distance. This is about a lack of infection, not connection.

How to recover quickly if you’re sick

Plan A is to not get sick. Plan B is to recover fast while protecting others. Below are some action steps for Plan B.

Know when you might be sick

According to WHO, the most common symptoms of coronavirus are fever, tiredness, and dry coughing. Runny nose, muscle pain, nasal congestion, sore throat, and diarrhea occur in fewer cases. The CDC offers a self-checker, and Robert Roy Britt created a great symptom chart to tell the difference between coronavirus and the common cold or flu:

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Image via Elemental

Get tested if you can

Different countries have different methods, but whichever testing procedure you have access to, if you have symptoms, enter the queue. Better the devil you know than the one that you don’t. Knowing whether you have the virus or something else will help both you and your doctor treat your illness properly.

Get medical assistance

Every instance of every illness plays out slightly differently in every human being. Per our genetic code, no two of us are the exact same. This complicates the fact that corona symptoms are similar to the common flu to begin with. Finally, the global death rate among confirmed cases so far is at over 4% — even if the overall mortality rate is closer to 1%, this illness is not a joke.

Rest

This is a personal note, but whenever I get sick, I try to quit all activities immediately — kind of like what countries are doing nowand it works. If I close my laptop, sleep 12+ hours a day, eat well, and drink a lot, I’ll shake even a proper infection within days. If I keep working through the sickness and don’t look after myself, I might run at 80% capacity for weeks after “recovering.” Do yourself a favor and shut down so you can reboot faster.

Wait for three days without fever and seven without symptoms

This is the CDC-recommended self-assessment for when you can consider yourself “recovered.” If you’re not sure, can’t get tested, and don’t have a negative result to show for, give all symptoms at least a week to pass.

How to prepare for staying at home a lot

Sick or not, for your own safety and that of others, you’ll now likely spend a lot more time at home than you usually do. This will require some behavior changes but also some practical preparations. Let’s start with the latter.

Stock up on food for 2–4 weeks

Most countries’ national response measures are initially set for 2–4 weeks. Even if access to groceries was limited, which, in most countries, it isn’t, a month is a good food planning horizon. If measures are extended, there should be an opportunity to re-stock in between.

Refill hygiene products and basic medication

If you don’t have one at home yet, now’s a great time to buy a first aid kit. Jessica Migala further proposes stocking up on any medication you take regularly and basic OTC meds, especially fever-reducing ones. The jury on the effects of ibuprofen vs paracetamol isn’t out, but David Kroll, a pharmacology professor says: “There’s no direct evidence suggesting that ibuprofen, acetaminophen, any of these will enhance the lethality of Covid-19.” WHO confirmed this for ibuprofen, so it pays to have both. Throw in a thermometer for good measure, as fever is a common symptom.

Don’t hoard

If you scoop up all the soap, other people in your community can’t wash their hands — and are thus more likely to infect you and others. Damaging others’ access to toilet paper is even worse. If you build up a 12-month food supply, others will have to shop more often, thus spreading more virus cells. It’s a needless, self-reinforcing, vicious cycle. Buy what you need, but don’t hoard.

How to be productive when working from home

Some of us are already used to and comfortable with working from home. Most of us aren’t, but since we can expect social distancing measures to last anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more, it is critical to master the transition if you’re lucky enough to have a job that affords it. Here’s how.

Decide on a routine

Humans are creatures of habit. You may not have consciously designed it, but, when going into the office, you had a work routine. Now’s the time to make your own. What routine you choose doesn’t matter as much as that you do. Keeping track of how you adjust your behavior will help you figure out what works and what doesn’t faster.

Adapt your home to your routine

The two big components of habit change are self-awareness and environment design. Once settling on a daily routine, make a one-time effort to adapt your home in ways that support it. If you can write better in broad daylight, move your desk to the window. Keep your phone charger where you have to get up to turn off your alarm. Stock up on coffee so you can prepare it the night before. Each next version of your routine should come with some home arrangements to support it. Tweak your house as you tweak your habits.

Continue to experiment and adjust

Everyone has a different way of being productive, and your circumstances are unique to you. Don’t let any particular set of tips not working discourage you. Darius Foroux says the most important thing is to continue to experiment.

How to stay sane, busy, happy, and entertained

Besides your work schedule changing drastically, your spare time will also go through the roof. Not just because you may work less, but also because everything is closed, travel isn’t allowed, and you’re not supposed to go out. How can you spend it so you won’t get cabin fever? Here are some ideas.

Exercise

Most countries allow walks, running, biking, and other forms of solo outdoor exercise, but even if yours doesn’t, you can still work out at home. I do ten minutes of bodyweight exercises every day — sit ups, push ups, dips, squats, and jumping jacks. Most forms of exercise have indoor variations that stress the same muscles. Swimming, for example, can be simulated with stretch cords. If you’ve been eyeing a cross trainer or stationary bike, now’s the time. Consider supporting local gyms by taking their online classes. As for the duration of workouts, fitness expert Christie Aschwanden suggests keeping your daily exercise to 60 or not more than 90 minutes tops, as intense athletics make your immune system more vulnerable, not less.

Learn to enjoy solitude

Humans are afraid of being alone. It’s in our nature. Still, we can learn to not just tolerate but even enjoy solitude and quiet. To do so, you can meditate, focus on personal growth, or even just do things you enjoy by yourself. Roz Savage further suggests getting into philosophy, treating it like an experiment, being silly, and indulging in your daydreams. Master your mind, stay calm.

Find new ways to have fun (and remember old ones)

If you’re a movie lover, now’s the time to get your watch list to zero. If you like video games, have at it. Beyond enjoying your hobbies more and resurrecting old ones, you can also find entirely new ways to enjoy life.

Where to get the facts

As this pandemic unfolds, news appear by the second, and you’ll likely have to adapt to some of it down the line. While there’s no point in staying glued to the screen and worrying around the clock, it’s important to have a few go-to sources you can rely on to provide verified, credible information. In Iran, hundreds of people died after drinking toxic methanol, which was falsely advertised as a cure to the virus. Information matters. Here’s where to get it.

Official sources — stick to these in “When in doubt” scenarios

The US CDC and WHO offer guidance that applies to anyone right now, but you should also find your national health agency (Wikipedia has a list) and check its website regularly or sign up for updates.

Medium — the latest science, health advice, and personal accounts

Elemental, Medium’s health publication, consistently puts out great advice on all things corona, starting with multiple FAQs, as from Robert Roy Britt in February and March and this one from researcher Dave Troy. They also share in-depth reporting on the latest science, like Dana G Smith’s piece on how your immune system reacts to the virus and whether vitamin D, zinc, gargling, and UV light actually do anything (they don’t).

Wikipedia — aggregated information and lists

The world’s largest, crowd-sourced database isn’t the most scientific source, but especially for aggregated information, it’s great. It lists all travel restrictions by country, national measures taken, and keeps track of the most common misinformation. Their coronavirus portal is a good hub to start from.

Curated sources from trustworthy people

Knowledge kneecaps fear. The news might make you anxious, but actually understanding the virus and its implications can — up to a certain point — bring peace of mind. I’m no expert, and I encourage you to further look for your own, trusted advisors, but I found the following resources helpful:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” — Viktor Frankl

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