My best friend is a Los Angeles ER nurse who contracted COVID-19 due to inadequate PPE. After two weeks of fighting the disease, her symptoms weakened, and she was retested, only to discover that she was still positive. I cannot begin to imagine her frustration and heartbreak in learning this information. Having cared for those facing the worst of this disease, she knows what her body is battling. To know that the battle is not yet won terrifies me, let alone her.

Out of kindness to me (her empath friend), or maybe out of wanting to avoid the topic altogether, my friend would not share specific details of the atrocities she has seen firsthand. Even if she had, this is frankly not the space to divulge her stories. Instead, she entertained my paranoia and quelled it as needed, sharing the following takeaways I hope you find informative:

  1. My coworker washes her clothes in the tub. Should I do that to avoid the laundromat? You have to go outside and use public facilities like the grocery store, pharmacy, or laundromat. Try to visit at low-traffic hours. There’s no need to DIY a washboard.
  2. Do I need to disinfect every grocery item I bring into the house? No, but anything outside being brought inside could, potentially, have the virus on it. Disinfect if it makes you feel more comfortable, but there is no need to if you trust that the grocery store is taking the pandemic seriously.
  3. I’ve heard Ibuprofen can make the virus worse. Should I not take Ibuprofen? How about Tylenol? Tylenol is the preferred option. As I was managing my symptoms, I alternated between Tylenol and Ibuprofen. We are still learning about this disease, and it looks different for everyone, so I don’t have a universal answer here. Tylenol tends to be a bit better for managing fever symptoms, COVID-19 related or not, so start there and stay hydrated. Also, if you are infected, your liver enzymes will be increased. That means you should not take more Ibuprofen or Tylenol than you need to, and you should absolutely not be drinking.
  4. What are your thoughts on masks? Do I need to buy one, or can I use a scarf? The CDC recommends using a mask or scarf, but frankly, I don’t think either will 100% work. The medical world is, at large, operating as if the disease passes on droplets, but there may be reason to believe it could be airborne in some cases. In those circumstances, most masks or scarfs will not do much to protect you. However, they can help keep your germs from infecting others, and they will likely give those around you peace of mind. Don’t think of a scarf as protection, because it likely isn’t. Think of it as a kindness to your neighbors.
  5. I am not an essential worker. What can I be doing right now to make things better? Honestly, do nothing. Stay inside. I know you want to help, or feel like you’re helping, but the best thing you can do is nothing. Stay away from people, stay inside, and stay present in the lives of your friends and family. Keep in touch. Be encouraging. Understand that working from home is a privilege. Really it just boils down to don’t be stupid or selfish.