COVID-19 pandemic – finding the middle ground between fear and healthy precaution


If you haven’t heard of COVID-19 yet, because the only reason would be that you’re blissfully sitting on a private island somewhere in the world with no internet (ps – where was my invite?), the intent of this blog is to:

  • Understand what precautions are reasonable to take, and which aren’t (i.e., don’t hoard all the TP but increase your hygiene habits)
  • Clarify what to really be worried about and what not to be (i.e., the real impacts of this virus, being one of the ”worried well”)
  • How to manage during a period of “social distancing” and what is that anyway? (Introverts rejoice! But the kids are driving me crazy!)
  • Understand and pay attention to the benefits you have through your health plan (i.e., insurance carriers are expanding policies to help members)

Before I jump into this, I feel like I have a pretty unique perspective, in that I work in the healthcare industry (18+ years) for a large US-based health insurance carrier. I understand health plans and what they cover and what they don’t, intimately. I work with incredibly talented and knowledgeable doctors. That said, nothing here is their opinion or any other carrier for that matter, it is merely mine, based on my personal experiences and knowledge gained through the work and industry I am exposed to daily. I’m also not in any way panicked. Concerned, absolutely. Taking precautions, you betchya. Even if it hurts a little. Or a lot. Also, my 78-year-old mother who does have some respiratory issues lives in my home. So there’s that. We all have someone we don’t want to get sick, even if it isn’t ourselves or our healthy spouse/partner/kiddos.

The TP Situation 

Ok, now that we’ve established I know a thing or two…let’s address the toilet paper issue here people. STOP buying all the TP. What will happen is that there will be people that actually need it, within reason, and meanwhile people all around our communities will have their storage room full of it, and they won’t even be using it. In all seriousness, stop the madness. It’s not like everyone is going to be locked down into their homes having explosive diarrhea. Sure, if a big cluster outbreak were to happen, like New Rochelle, NY where they put the national guard up around them, it doesn’t mean you can’t leave your home to get the essentials. This is not the apocalypse.

What’s with all the canceled events?

So here’s the reality though, everything is closing down. Why? Because the more people in one area, being potentially exposed to this virus, will in fact help increase the spread of the virus which is spreading quickly. That is not being exaggerated. That’s just how these things work. Think flu and cold season. It’s prime time for all these ickiness anyway.

But the good news is, this is a short term solution with long term positive impact. But if we all just limit our regular activities a bit for a few weeks we can probably fend off a much bigger problem in our local communities. I don’t want what happened in N. Italy to happen here. And I appreciate the folks who plan events, concerts, baseball and basketball games, and all the restaurant owners who might be getting hit by this. And the companies who are expanding work from home policies. But it’s the right thing to do right now. So don’t stop buying tickets or making plans for a month or two away. Also, keep your local businesses afloat and buy gift certificates now, that you can spend later, or order food for delivery from your favorite locally-owned restaurant. Let’s help each other out.

This is not the great recession. This is not 2009-2010. This will be short-lived if we just play our cards right for what will be a relatively short time in the grand scheme of things. Enter…social distancing and how that can stop the overburden of our healthcare system.

Wash. Your. Hands.

Also, washing your hands, although extremely helpful, doesn’t mean you won’t get it. Also to note, yes the elderly, and some of our most vulnerable who vary in age from babies to the not so elderly (think of your friends kid who has a chronic respiratory condition or your neighbor on chemo being treated for cancer, or your dad who has COPD), have a higher propensity to contract the virus than say a healthy 25-year-old. Do you want to be the reason your mother ends up in the hospital? I sure as heck don’t. That’s why I canceled my spring break trip to Vegas with my kids. Just seemed like a reasonable (but somewhat costly) precaution to take. Sure wish I had a camping trip planned to Moab at the moment instead.

WTH is Social Distancing? 

The biggest issue though, and this is where social distancing is key, is that if this seemingly fast-spreading virus affects enough people in local communities across the country, which is what is happening in some areas already, the health care system will be overloaded.

Here’s a great metaphor…It’s like when tickets go on sale for a big concert and everyone tries to buy all at once online and then you’re in this virtual waiting line and often you wait and wait and wait and you don’t get your tickets, and then you’re sad and that sucks you won’t get to see Pearl Jam. Again! You dig? Except these consequences are a bit more dire.

Why we have to flatten the curve

And when the system is overloaded, there aren’t enough doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, nutritional staff, and the list goes on, nor the necessary medical equipment to help everyone who actually needs it. If you burden the system, people suffer because they literally don’t have the means to provide the appropriate level of care. And I’m looking at you “well worriers”…use telehealth instead, please don’t inadvertently overburden the system in times like these. We don’t got time for that!


So a lot of health care companies are offering their members free telehealth visits for the next 90 days, free testing for the COVID-19 virus, and in the case of Aetna, because they’re owned by CVS Health now, you can get free testing as an Aetna member at any CVS Health location. So I implore you to check with your insurance to see what kind of expanded benefits they’re offering to keep you out of facilities for symptoms and away from other people, minimizing the spread of this virus. Forget the TP and get vitamin C!

Bottom line people – be wary, be cautious, be extra especially clean, be thoughtful about your travel plans, be considerate of the most vulnerable around you, and stop buying all the TP for the love of Pete. And of course, be well!