Stephen Ulrich, MD, a family physician and OAFP board member from Lexington, OH, submitted his reflections on COVID-19:
As I watched the thunderstorms roil the skies last night, I thought that it was a perfect ending to a stormy day of dealing with consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all been in the struggle these last few weeks. There is a palpable fear in our community as we deal with the spread of the virus through the country.
Fear is a two-headed beast. It can be a lifesaving emotion when it leads us to take appropriate precautions to avoid danger or it can paralyze us to the point we cannot respond to the same danger.
Deal with fear first by taking a deep breath, then slowly exhale and realize that we can only control our reactions not the events that face us. Courage is the ability to understand the fear, take the deep breath, and begin to deal with those things that we can control.
In dealing with infectious disease, there are precautions we can control. First, wash your hands. Just this simple act can help cut down on transmission of disease. The physical act of washing your hands can calm the fear. It becomes a symbol of washing away the evil in the world.
I make it a point to wash my hands whenever I touch my face simply to remind me not to touch my face. Touching our faces is a way to transmit disease to both ourselves and to others. It is rather frustrating but then I am doing something that I control.
Coughing into the elbow is another simple maneuver to prevent transmission and to avoid touching your face-a two for one.
Space and distance are important. Stay home when you can. Keep that six-foot distance in public.
So let fear guide you, not paralyze you. Follow the example of Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, MD, who stated during her March 22 press conference, “I am not afraid, I am determined.” May we be determined to stay healthy and provide our patients with good care. This storm too shall pass.