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The state of the pandemic

Have you looked at the global map for the pandemic? Take a look at it and put on your critical thinking caps. Politics aside, the medical and scientific communities are assuring us that the virus is very real. If you know someone who has had it or has died from its complications, you know what damage the virus can do.

The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) has released a report, State of the Response: State Actions to Address.The NSC says the report analyzes how well states have protected their citizens during this pandemic which has taken more lives than accidental overdoses, motor vehicle crashes and falls combined. The report calls SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is now “the third leading cause of death in the country.”

The federal government has largely left pandemic-related decision-making to the states to lead.” Key to going forward is keeping workers safe and healthy with the CDC and OSHA guidelines in place. Businesses that follow the guidelines can be safe places. Checking temperatures of employees and customers, keeping a safe distance apart, cleaning frequently touched surfaces like counters and door knobs, testing, face coverings and contact tracing are on the list.

Nine states, including Ohio, provided “comprehensive guidelines on four of the five science-based mitigation efforts.” Gov. DeWine has spoken many times about the fifth effort: improving testing in this state.

As much as everyone hates the face coverings and finds reasons not to utilize them, it seems a small thing that most of us can do that might make a difference regarding serious illness related to COVID-19. Wash the face coverings often. Our governor has requested – not demanded – that we use the face coverings.

If we are ill, we should stay home, in bed, resting, sleeping, giving our immune systems opportunity to heal our bodies. We do not perform at our best when we don’t feel well.

Frequent hand washing is nothing new. Moms have always told their children, “Wash your hands. And use soap!” before sitting down at the table to eat, handling food, and after going to the restroom. “Don’t touch your face” during the flu or cold season, or when some bug is going around. It’s always a good practice to keep your hands away from the points of entry for germs: eyes, nose and mouth. Hand sanitizer gets you through the time between the place of business and car and availability of soap and water.

The distancing is hard for people who hug. How do you explain to a 4-year-old why you can’t hug him, let him kiss you goodbye or sit on your lap where he feels safe and secure enough to nod off for a nap? How do you make the small child understand why he or she can’t play with the kids on the other side of the fence? How can anyone understand why they can’t be there as a loved one snips the strings that bind her or him to this world? What difficulties arise while a person has to observe a14-day quarantine? How do you celebrate a wedding safely? Welcome a new baby into the family? Distancing is the hard part for everyone.

High numbers of people are experiencing mental distress, says the NSC. Young people, minorities, essential workers and unpaid adult caregivers are at the highest risk for negative mental health outcomes, substance use and elevated suicidal thinking. They are worried about the health and well-being of their families, how they are going to keep the roof over their heads and food on the table. If they are struggling with these things, their relationships, their mental health and well-being are tested. Substance use – alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs – can become a problem.

“The trauma caused by public health disasters has been shown to increase the risk for development of mental health issues and SUDs (substance use disorders.)”

The initial outbreak of the pandemic is nearly a full year ago. We all are tired, worn, ready to give up and give in. Stand steadfast. You can find the report at the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org)

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Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded, in part, by Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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