The last several days have been scary for a lot of the world. And the next several weeks are probably going to follow suit. Dealing with an outbreak, such as the Coronavirus, we’re in unprecedented territory and we’re all learning together. Today, I want to take a break from disability history and speak a little bit about how the things happening now are affecting people with disabilities. This is going to be a different kind of article, but I hope it’ll provide some insight nonetheless.
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that I am not an expert on the Coronavirus, aka COVID-19, nor can I speak to all the different types of disability there are. Everyone is different, has different needs, and has different immune systems. I know my body and overall health, but I can’t speak for someone else. Please listen to your body and honor someone’s request if they ask you to stay away for fear of infection, even if you think you aren’t sick.
Self Isolation Isn’t New to Lots of People with Disabilities
During the winter, there are lots of people with disabilities who go out as little as possible. Getting sick when you’re disabled can mean being completely out of commission for much longer than an otherwise healthy person. For example, a simple chest cold with a wet cough might cause a healthy person to use one or two sick days. When I get a chest cold, it’s a minimum of two weeks in bed, with a real possibility of pneumonia. Disabled people tend to self isolate in the winter so they are less likely to get this bad. The only difference for a lot of us this year is that so is the rest of the world. Yes, this virus has a name and we don’t know a lot about it, but the basics of self-isolation aren’t all that changed.
Working From Home IS Possible
Not to beat a dead horse, but if this Coronavirus epidemic has proven anything I’ve said right, it’s that people can work remotely. Entire companies are being forced to stay home and work — something some people with disabilities have always needed to do but were told was impossible. If an entire company can still function relatively smoothly with everyone working remote, surely one or two employees staying remote isn’t a huge deal.
Panicking Makes Things Worse
Okay, last thing I’m going to say is take a deep breath. If you’re washing your hands and taking the proper precautions, you should be fine. Those people who have 30 cases of toilet paper are no less likely to get sick than anyone else. Panic-buying is only hurting those who are already at a higher risk by hoarding necessities. Please use common sense. Washing your hands with soap and warm water is just as effective as hand sanitizer. Your use of bread isn’t going to increase by 5x just because you may get sick.
In conclusion, be cautious and mindful of your wellness habits over the next few weeks. Remember that this is only temporary and that things will eventually return to normal. Stay up to date on what’s going on with the Coronavirus, but don’t let yourself panic. Your mental health impacts your physical health.