Love In the Time of COVID19

Posted on March 16, 2020

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Dear Reader,

I love you. I love all my relations. I love humanity.

I grieve for the suffering brought about by the pandemic, and no one I love has fallen ill as yet. I, like everyone else, wait for what will come, try to prepare in practical ways, and try to manage the sadness and fear.

It is a highly emotional time, but a time to use our heads. This weekend I posted the following on Facebook:

I will be unfriending anyone who posts nonsense pseudoscience related to COVID19.
There are NO “supplements” to “boost immune systems,” or do ANYTHING to address a VIRUS. Messages that suggest otherwise will simply cause folks to spend $ that they need for REAL medicine and survival.
DO NOT publicize false information. At best, it is not helpful. At worst, it is harmful. If we get sick, we will need meds for fever & cough; if it goes to pneumonia, we need more intensive medical interventions. Supplements, crystals, super foods, ear candles, cupping, “cleanses,” etc. can NOT save lives–and sometimes people who think they can will wait until it’s too late to get medical attention.
If you do post nonsense, I will ask you to take it down. If you leave it up, you have let me know that you do not value science, public health, or my friendship. If you are an educator posting nonsense, I may put your name out, because people may trust you more because of your position, which makes it more dangerous.
In response, 52 people “liked” it, and 8 people engaged in discussion. One person found it upsetting.

She said, “I find this harsh….

I don’t think anyone who shares misinformation is doing it maliciously. They are most likely convinced it actually works and are trying to help others. Maybe don’t be so aggressive when correcting someone’s factually inaccurate post….Telling them what they’re sharing from the goodness of their heart is ‘nonsense’ will only make them resentful and defensive, in my opinion. I suppose I would suggest a different approach..

I myself, for the most part, agree with you and felt on edge reading this post…”

My first response was to laugh, because her response shows that she doesn’t know me or read my writing. Anyone who knows me knows that I write what I want in the way that I want, and that I consistently speak out against any pseudoscience posts on social media. They’ve seen this before. As a teacher and researcher, accuracy is my #1 priority, and those who follow me on FB can attest to it. If I see a post that gives inaccurate or misleading information about health care, I will act…because public health is more important to me than emotion.

My second response was to notice that the focus is on the “good intentions” of those who post bad info. I’m sorry; intentions don’t matter here. What matters is saving the lives and livelihoods of human beings. The focus on emotion and tone-policing looks a lot like “white tears” when I write about racism–and I don’t have time for it.

What’s more important: accurate information about the pandemic or tone-policing?

I saw and addressed 4 instances of inaccurate information about COVID19, and 3/4 of the people took them down when I asked. They know me; they trust me. They took their posts down and apologized. I thanked them, told them I love them, and gave them accurate info from WHO and CDC–and we’re all still friends.
In a time when so many people lack access to health care, social media steps in to fill the void with a LOT of bullshit–that can put lives at risk. I do what I can to watch out for others who can be taken advantage of by people looking to profit from their misfortune.
…Like that time when my father had cancer and was getting chemotherapy, and a “friend” sent an article about how drinking green smoothies could cure cancer. Because of the actual medical care he received, including surgery and chemo, my dad lived a couple of years–long enough to travel the country one last time and say goodbye to friends. On the other hand, two of my sisters have lived decades beyond their breast cancer–because they had medical treatment–not because they drank magic smoothies.
It’s a scary time. As Americans, we haven’t had to work together or make any real  sacrifices as a nation during my lifetime. I’m a senior citizen, and the last time we had to pull together as a nation was during my grandparents lifetime in the 1940s.
We all wish for a magic fix that will let us avoid the coming disaster, but that’s not how this works. We’re in for a rough ride in a nation with insufficient resources: health insurance, tests, hospital beds, and ventilators. It’s going to be harsh.
I hope that, rather than tone-policing my posts, my social media contacts will join me in the campaign to eradicate inaccurate information about health care on social media. In a time when the main thing that’s asked of us is to stay home, it’s one thing we can do for public health.

Local & Related

In an effort to provide COVID-19 screening to community members in a way that follows appropriate social distancing recommendations, Henry Ford Allegiance Health has opened a drive-through COVID-19 screening station. The station is located on the surface lot of One Jackson Square (100 East Michigan Avenue in downtown Jackson) and will allow community members with symptoms to be screened while remaining in their car and limiting exposure to other individuals.

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Risk factors for COVID-19 include international travel within the past 14 days or contact with others already diagnosed with the disease. If you are experiencing symptoms or risk factors, screening may be appropriate.

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And a note about how to clean w/ bleach from a U-M chemistry grad: Bleach has an expiration date, AND bleach solutions made from stock start to degrade in 24 hours, so solution should be made fresh with each cleaning. Solutions should be between 3-6% bleach for things like norovirus, influenza and COVID-19. For 15 ounces, that’s about 2 tablespoons to make 6% solution.

Posted in: Advocacy, Wellness