Welcome to my "Voice Box"
Here's the thing. There is SO much misinformation out there right now.
It's always been like that, and it is difficult to sift through. I sifted through it, to provide a narrative of what's most important, with solid sources and no politics.
My personal perspective as of ONE WEEK AGO (Monday, March 9, 2020):
I was preoccupied with the business of life, and in the mindset of "Oh, this COVID-19 stuff is probably awful, but the media, as usual, is blowing everything way out of proportion" and I was turned off to it all. I expected this to be like every other epidemic that felt so far away, and largely didn't affect my daily routine.
I heard rumors surrounding the panicking and hoarding that began with all the toilet paper/hand sanitizer etc. and 'Black Friday' behaviors. I moved right along with life as normal. I thought I was informed on what I needed to be, and I was thinking "These crazies are over-reacting." I was also tired of all the politics mixed up in it, which was off-putting. And then, someone shared the interview below, I watched it- and I realized things were much different than I thought I knew. I scoured the best media sources to learn more. I knew I had to act. I immediately sent messages off to my daughter's preschool as quickly as I could, that I was withdrawing her from class (before schools closed)...and I detailed to them, (basically a shorter version of this blog post) providing reasons and sources as to why I was choosing to do what I was doing, and why I thought everyone else should too.
I teach nearly 20 hours of private voice, violin, and piano studio students in my home each week. If I don't teach them, I don't make that income. -I canceled all of them. And my husband was officially working from home by Thursday, once he got back from his business trip to DC (travel, I know! We are self-isolating now, just in case).
As if on cue, my three year old daughter started to cough on the same day of my realization. *( She coughed before my husband got home FYI, and a week later now, my daughter is still coughing, not a dry cough or fever....and otherwise fine - we will not get tested unless medically necessary as per the current guidelines of the CDC, and I notified my studio of students).
SO - Here we go!
Firstly, what's in a name?
I didn't initially realize there were so many names being thrown around, or why. So, FYI: the actual virus has a name, and the disease it causes has a name.
So when people call this "THE Coronavirus", that's actually not quite right. See clarification on that below. If you don't care about names - skip this section. :-)
In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ (meaning "crown" in Latin) ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.
"Coronaviruses are actually large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause illnesses in people, but many of them do not. Most of the coronaviruses that make people sick usually only cause mild respiratory disease, similar to the common cold.
The new coronavirus that is causing alarm officially is named SARS-CoV-2, but it also is known as 2019 novel coronavirus. It is called novel because it hasn’t been seen in human beings before. It first was identified in Wuhan, a city in China, in December 2019. Because the virus is new, the investigation of it is evolving rapidly and being updated frequently. The disease the virus causes is known as coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19 for short. You may see the virus referred to as the COVID-19 virus. " (Excerpted from RUSH MEDICAL CENTER'S WEBPAGE, CHICAGO, IL)
1. They believe that it is possible to have the virus and also spread it to others while not experiencing any symptoms, whatsoever. This contributes significantly to it's ability to spread.
2. Since widespread testing is not available yet, you truly might be carrying it around and have no clue, RIGHT now. You may have even already had it...it can be mistaken easily for a cold or flu-like illness. However, it can develop into something much more serious, for the vulnerable portion of our population.
3. Thankfully, Little children seem to have such robust immune systems that this virus has little effect on them, and it mostly results in a mild illness. They can still spread it.
4. Without proper social distancing measures taken, this can spread exponentially from a small number of cases to the thousands in a matter of days. Why? It is a new strain, and no human is immune to this COVID-19 Virus until they have had it.
5. There's another myth floating around out there saying that once our hemisphere warms up, it will go away, which has been addressed by the CDC as up in the air, because the virus is so new, we don't really have an answer for that yet.
So here are a few of my favorite sources that simply cut to the chase, first and foremost, this graphic, explained in the source directly beneath it.
See this article - to fully understand the graphic above.
1. Flattening a Pandemics Curve - Why Staying Home Now Can Save Lives
Then glance through this, to see it in action:
2.SUPER COOL VISUAL Simulator that show how social distancing really works.
Understand what it's like at the hospital:
4. See inside an ICU Unit for COVID-19
5. Here's an infection tracker for confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. -Remember that due to lack of widespread testing at the time of this, these numbers are only the confirmed cases, which means there are potentially many more cases than this, and it spreads extremely well. So please, don't make the mistake of thinking "oh, it's just 3 people in my county" - it's not.
6. This interview with the CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is the one that changed my perspective on EVERYTHING. It's with Dr. Richard Hatchett, from March 6, 2020. I found his interview to be the most informative and clarifying.
-The potential of this virus and what could happen if we don't nip it in the bud (social distancing and avoiding community spread of the virus).
-Clarifies what the differences are between this virus and the flu. Including an explanation that it is at LEAST 10 times more deadly than the flu, for those who contract COVID-19.
-The difficulties to creating a vaccine. The earliest timeline turnaround for a vaccine would take at least 12-18 months, and how, when it is available, it will only be prioritized to the people that are most vulnerable. I highly recommend listening to him speak on this, (it's roughly 20 mins long).
What is our responsibility as Global Citizens?
Be informed. Encourage and pressure your peers to do the same.
And encourage them to stay put. See Cancel Everything.
Please read this address given in my Highland Park, IL community (Chicago suburb) by Dr. Mia Levy on Thursday, March 12, 2020 (She gave permission to share it, and anyone may use any verbiage from this to put the pressure on in their own communities and institutions and businesses to cancel everything):
- The link to her original post, "A Message of Hope" restated here:
My fellow parents, members of the board, and school administrators, I speak to you tonight, not with a message of fear, but with a message of hope.
My name is Mia Levy and I am the parent of two District 112 students. I am a physician and the director of the Rush University Cancer Center. My statements tonight are not made as an official representative of my healthcare organization, but as a fellow member of our beloved community, and out of a deep sense of obligation and hope.
This week, the Illinois governor declared a state of emergency related to COVID-19, and as of this afternoon, there have been 32 confirmed cases in the Chicago area. Analysis from the World Health Organization indicates that each person infected with COVID-19 transmits the disease to more people than for seasonal influenza, and the rate of severe and critical cases is also higher than for the seasonal flu. The elderly and immuno-compromised are at highest risk for severe or critical cases of COVID-19.
Now is not the time for complacency. It is time for decisive action. Our school district is faced with the need to make a timely decision to close our schools that could dramatically impact the health of our entire community. Your actions will save lives—maybe not yours or your kids’, but maybe your kids’ grandparents, your coworkers, and others in your communities, schools, and congregations.
In speaking with friends and family, many express a sense of defeat. They anticipate that each of us will inevitably get COVID-19, and that changing any of our regular routines would be pointless. I am here to tell you loudly and confidently that this does not need to be the destiny of our community.
There is strong evidence from past epidemics and lessons from COVID-19 so far, that early implementation of social distancing measures can significantly mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.
Social distancing limits the spread of disease by keeping people from congregating in large groups. This includes keeping people out of settings like schools, work, and shopping centers where they are together closely for an extended period of time. Another aim is to avoid mass gatherings like concerts, movies, religious services, and sporting events. When out in public, maintain a distance of about six feet apart from one other.
Evidence shows that the earlier social distancing measures are taken during an epidemic, the more lives can be saved. In the 1918 flu pandemic, Philadelphia waited 14 days to take broad social distancing measures, whereas St. Louis took immediate action. The death rates in Philadelphia peaked at 250 per 100,000 people overwhelming the capacity of their healthcare system. In contrast, St. Louis peaked at 50 per deaths per 100,000 people, significantly limiting the impact on their community.
Similarly, during this current COVID-19 outbreak, countries like Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong took early social distancing measures resulting in a significantly lower rate of transmission. Italy on the other hand took 16 days to take sweeping action at the cost of a rapidly rising rate of transmission throughout Europe.
Aggressive social distancing measures may seem extreme to some people. But human nature is often difficult to overcome. A Missouri father and his family were under self-quarantine after one of his children tested positive for COVID-19. He broke quarantine to attend a father-daughter dance with another one of his children, risking exposure to his entire community and resulting in the school’s closure. I can imagine the burden of this father’s decision, not wanting to disappoint his child who was not sick but instructed not to attend this very special event, breaking his previous commitment to her. Social distancing measures strive to help people by eliminating these day-to-day decisions, by canceling social events to prevent people from congregating in large groups.
Closing schools will have a major ripple effect on all other activities in our community. It is the strongest signal we can send to other organizations that now is the time to act broadly to implement social distancing measures in our community.
I encourage you to rise up and be part of the solution and this message of hope. Petition our schools to close earlier than later, postpone birthday parties and I dare say Mitzvah events, reach out to your children’s sporting event commissions and encourage them to cancel or postpone sports competitions, cancel work and personal travel including your spring break plans, implement work from home plans for you and your employees, encourage those over 60 and with medical conditions to stay home and check on them regularly.
As a physician leader whose is responsible for safeguarding the well-being of my vulnerable patient population and the healthcare professionals committed to caring for them, I believe the strongest message of hope I can give tonight for them is to encourage you to act now to be part of the solution. Close our schools.
- Mia Levy, MD, PhD
So, what else should we do?
It can be pretty easy to feel helpless. Empower yourself with knowledge.
If you have not already done so, please take the time to read and learn everything there is to know from the most comprehensively reputable resources that our government provides us with for EXACTLY times like these at:
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov (Nation-wide)
The World Health Organization at: www.who.int (World-wide)
Firstly, you need to understand what your personal risk factor (or anyone else that you live with or love!) of contracting aserious or critical illness with this virus. You might be surprised to learn what is there. Age, asthma, diabetes, weakened immune systems, smoking, and other underlying health issues all play a huge factor with this virus.
Secondly, you also need to know what to do if/when you or your family fall ill with the virus. DO NOT just walk in to any urgent care, or doctor's office. Call the hotlines, find out how to proceed - all of this is covered on the websites in depth.
Explore these sites. Learn how to properly wash your hands, (for real, though). Especially check out their myth-busting lists. There are some seriously shameful things out there circulating about this. Don't fan those flames.
LEARN FROM OTHERS- DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES
My heart hurts for the other countries experiencing the outbreak. Since Italy did not take Social Distancing measures soon enough, or seriously enough, it's been reported that they have had to experience something similar to a war-like atmosphere for those who are dying, because their healthcare system is overloaded and overflowing. It is horrific. Thinking about it is hard to imagine.
Some may say - "Isn't it bad to share stories like this and thus incite panicking? ...My feeling is, NO. People need to hear and understand the gravity of the situation. I do not believe we should censor ANYTHING coming out of Italy, or anywhere else right now. We should be listening to them. We should pray for them, we should cry with them. And learn from it.
These kinds of stories, as sad as they are, are all around us, all the time - why is it - that as soon as they may DIRECTLY affect us (such as what's occurring now) we suddenly want to turn a blind eye? Perhaps it is a coping mechanism for our stress and anxiety. (see: RESOURCES TO DEAL WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY RELATED TO COVID-19 )
Here are the current numbers in Italy (as the above facebook post was a week ago)
Let's hear the latest from this Doctor in Lombardy, Italy:
STOP THE PANIC
It should go without saying, that everyone should stop participating in debating, finger pointing, blaming, panicking, and hoarding. And furthermore - we each should be responsible enough to not stoke those fires.
Be kind. Help and love those around you. We are all in this together and everyone has different stresses that are spiking all the time at different times.
My favorite viewpoint that has been shared all over now - is to go about your days, not as if you are afraid of getting the virus...but to go about your days as if you already have it, and you want to protect the vulnerable from catching it.
Our bodies know what to do with viruses, as long as your immune system is not overtired or stressed, if you stay hydrated, and do 'all the things' you should have an easier time fighting off the infection, when/if you get it. If you're worried about your loved ones - share information with them, empower them as well. (That is what prompted me to compile this!)
Here is a personal account from Dr. Braden Hexom in the Chicagoland area, on the front lines here fighting to take care of people. The most distressing part is that they are already feeling overwhelmed, and this is just the beginning. If we do our part now, to stay home - these professionals will be able to do their jobs.
What else can we do?
- Wash Your Hands and establish new habits, for when you are out- on this list!
-Pass along local useful information to your families, assist anyone you know in the medical community and public service workers- do whatever you can for them, they are true heroes.
-Brainstorming, and acting on other ways to help your neighbors and communities.
-Socially pressure everyone around you to stop congregating and meeting together!
Silver Linings - Stay Positive and Hopeful
When someone you know starts to complain about cancellations, or becomes negative and discouraged, be positive and supporting. If someone thinks the whole thing is a conspiracy, big joke, or a hoax, please guide them to see the the bigger goal here- it is to flatten the curve and save lives. Negativity is always a waste of energy. Energy that you need to keep your immune system strong, and your soul well-nourished.
We all need to slow down. (Myself included!)Take this time to reset.
Last night, my 4.5 month old son belly laughed for the first time, and I caught it on video...It's "infectious" :) Have a good laugh.
I will leave you with the most beautiful messages that I've come across, this one is nice: Use Coronavirus to Reset
And this musing as well:
"There is so much fear about COVID-19.
And, what if...
If we subscribe to the philosophy that life is always working out for us, that there is an intelligence far greater than humans at work...
That all is interconnected. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
the virus is here to help us? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
What is truly important.
Reconnecting with family and community.
Reducing travel so that the environment, the skies, the air, our lungs all get a break.
Parts of China are seeing blue sky and clouds for the first time in forever with the factories being shut down.
Working from home rather than commuting to work (less pollution, more personal time).
Reconnecting with family as there is more time at home.
An invitation to turn inwards -- a deep meditation -- rather than the usual extroverted going out to self-soothe.
To reconnect with self -- what is really important to me?
A reset economically. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The working poor. The lack of healthcare access for over 30 million in the US.
The need for paid sick leave. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
How hard does one need to work to be able to live, to have a life outside of work?
And, washing our hands -- how did that become a "new" thing that we needed to remember. But, yes, we did. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The presence of Grace for all. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
There is a shift underway in our society -- what if it is one that is favorable for us?
What if this virus is an ally in our evolution? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In our remembrance of what it means to be connected, humane, living a simpler life, to be less impactful/ more kind to our environment. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
An offering from my heart this morning. Offered as another perspective. Another way of relating to this virus, this unfolding, this evolution. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It was time for a change, we all knew that.
And, change has arrived. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
What if... "
Lastly, use this time to reflect on your beliefs, and what matters most to you
I am so grateful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Which of course has suspended all in-person meetings and activities worldwide)... this talk, given nearly ten years ago by an apostle of the Lord, President Uchtdorf, has a whole new meaning right now--- "Of Things That Matter Most".
He makes wonderful analogies of how Nature, and Laws of Physics can teach us some lessons in life about slowing down, and remembering what is most important. It is a message that relates well to ANYONE, no matter your beliefs, and I encourage you to watch it.
My testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is what anchors me through troubled, and turbulent times. Do whatever it is that you need to do in your life, to connect with God, Mother Nature, The Divine Energy or Intelligence, or the Universe, or whatever floats your boat and gets you centered and focused on the real things, like baby giggles, and less of the superficiality that our (dare I say previous?) culture promotes.
If you appreciate this post, feel free to share it with anyone who you feel may benefit from this. This is one small way I feel like I can make a tiny impact on my corner of the world during this pandemic.
To Share on social media, Please use: #ThinkOutsideYourBox
Reflect, Reset, Reconnect, and Rest!
-Want to know how to be super duper clean when you have to venture out?
Go to: Squeaky Clean for COVID-19: "Think" Outside Your Box
"Becoming a mother changed me. I have more love, passion, and fulfillment in life; which in turn, enriches my artistry. Please join me in normalizing motherhood within the performing artist's culture."
- Rachel Sparrow
Rachel Sparrow is a professional singer, musician,(violin, piano, ukulele) actor, teacher, arranger, writer, and most importantly: a wife and a mommy of two littles. She loves to help parents make everyday life musical with their kids as well as share backstage stories, and performance experiences here. She earned her Master's degree in Voice Performance from Northwestern University, and also holds two Bachelor's degrees in Voice, and Music Education (certified to teach k-12 vocal & instrumental music) from Idaho State University. She is also a certified Music Together Director (music class for birth-5 yrs). See about Rachel.
"Think Outside Your Box" means 3 things:
1. Be Selfless - think beyond your own "box". (and for singers, there's more to life than your voice box!) You're capable of helping and healing others.
2. Feel Empowered to bust out of the proverbial
"box" made of societally-induced-parameters.
3. Be Bold. Innovate. Stretch yourself. You can do anything if you set your mind to it.