As the Coronavirus takes grip of the world and panic surges across communities, the actual facts of the situation are often being ignored and not taken into consideration.

First and foremost, just to put things in perspective, in Spring 2009, the U.S. was faced with the Influenza A/H1N1 virus, better known as the Swine Flu. By Spring 2010, 59 million Americans had contracted the virus, 265,00 had been hospitalized, and 12,000 had died as a result. The Swine Flu was labeled as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

More recently, during the current 2019-2020 flu season, the CDC estimates that 34,000,000-49,000,000 contracted the flu, 350,000-620,000 people were hospitalized, and 20,000-52,000 died.

These are staggering numbers, numbers that far surpass the current COVID-19 numbers that are being seen in the U.S. With that being said, we don’t want to see anyone die or suffer unnecessarily, that’s why at this point we need to do what is right and take the proper precautions to bring this pandemic to an end.

As a previous Special Operations Combat Medic, I have a few suggestions for how we should combat COVID-19:

1) Stop Panicking – The reason I listed those statistics previously is to help everyone understand the gravity of our current situation versus prior events. Our country and the world have experienced events like this before. The Swine Flu was pretty bad in 2009, but life as we knew it never stopped. I don’t know if it’s because of social media, or smartphones, or the fact that it’s an election year, but this is starting to spiral out of control.

Everyone is being so quick to take drastic measures that they’re not thinking about the long-term negative effects of their actions. People are losing thousands in the stock market and many people are out of work due to so many events being canceled. People are hoarding food, toilet paper, soap, medical supplies, etc. This is the worst thing to be doing right now since yes, some of our supply chains have been interrupted, but over-buying supplies is going to create a negative chain-reaction for the entire U.S. population.

2) Wash Your Hands – First, I’m just going to say how alarming it is that it takes an event like this for people to go buy soap and hand sanitizer. It sounds simple, but humans are imperfect and often fail to wash their hands. Just putting soap and water on your hands doesn’t cut it. You need to get soap into all crevices of your fingers, scrub your fingernails, wash the palms and back of your hands. Pretend like you were going into surgery, sing Happy Birthday twice to ensure you washed your hands long enough. Constantly apply hand sanitizer, especially while out in public. When you use hand sanitizer, scrub it around your hands until it is completely dry. Also, hold yourself accountable: if you sneeze or cough on your hands, wash them immediately (even though you should be sneezing and coughing into your sleeve). Remember, we’re in this together.