There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown our world into a tailspin. We haven’t seen a pandemic this major since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which had more than 60 million cases across the globe and over 18,000 deaths. The massive outbreak didn’t end until over a year later.
Despite the turmoil that COVID-19 has caused us mentally, emotionally, and financially, there are some things we can learn from this ordeal. It’s in tough, rocky times like this that we tend to learn the biggest lessons. Here are a few things we can learn, or were reminded of, from the massive coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC LESSONS
Despite the havoc and trauma of the coronavirus outbreak, here’s what we can take away from this ordeal.
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF SANITIZING AND DISINFECTING
Ongoing sanitizing and disinfecting have always been essential to preventing infection and reducing the transmission of illness-causing germs. However, just because we know we should do something doesn’t mean we’ll do it.
From our homes to our businesses and workplaces, many of us haven’t been diligent about properly cleaning to effectively kill harmful pathogens. In fact, it seems as though many people completely forgot how important disinfecting is. As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic news broke, disinfectant wipes were quickly out of stock online and in stores.
Proper and consistent sanitizing and disinfecting are critical because bacteria and viruses can live on surfaces for hours, and even days or weeks. Regular and thorough cleaning can prevent them from getting people sick.
In fact, current studies show that coronavirus itself can live on cardboard for up to 24-hours and for up to three days on most plastics and stainless steel. An industry best practice is to create and implement a cleaning checklist or schedule to make cleaning more structured and a high priority.
The lesson to takeaway is that disinfecting needs to be done when:
- A specific bacteria or virus has been reported (sick employees, customers).
- Bodily fluids come into contact with a surface (blood, feces, urine, vomit, saliva).
- Raw food touches a surface.
- Multiple people share a surface each day (light switches, desks, phones, door handles, coffee makers, gym equipment, grocery carts, etc.).
Disinfection should be completed at the very least, once a week and/or as needed to kill harmful germs that can cause illness and infection. To learn how to eradicate coronavirus on surfaces, read our 5 step guide.
2. HOW QUICKLY AND EASILY BACTERIA CAN SPREAD
It didn’t take long for coronavirus to travel from its place of origin in Wuhan, China to the rest of the world. On December 31, 2019, Chinese health officials reported 41 mysterious cases of pneumonia to the WHO. By January 20, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States. On March 11, 2020, the WHO officially categorized the outbreak as a pandemic. By the time April came around, many states were under strict Shelter In Place orders.
Several factors contributed to the rapid spread of this disease:
- Respiratory droplets, which allowed the virus to quickly and easily be transmitted from person to person nearly invisibly.
- Infected people interacting with others or visiting public places and passing the virus to others via coughing, sneezing, talking, and laughing.
- A lack of disinfection and deep cleaning once the virus had been reported.
- People not taking it seriously.
In general, germs and infections spread in many ways. However, the most prevalent way is through people with existing infections. Some other infections and illnesses that spread easily are the common cold and the seasonal flu.
However, watching COVID-19 progress across the globe and through our country, states, and neighborhoods has reminded us just how fast germs can travel, spread, and infect others.
The lesson to takeaway is that bacteria spreads very quickly and easily.
It doesn’t take long for germs to multiply and travel to many surfaces and environments, and ultimately, people.
3. THE IMPORTANCE OF MAINTAINING A FULL SUPPLY OF ESSENTIAL AND IMPORTANT SUPPLIES
Disinfectant wipes aren’t the only product that’s been hard to find. Toilet paper and paper towel aisles are empty and purchase restrictions and limits have been implemented. It’s been confirmed that there is now a global shortage of hand sanitizer, and coffee filters in almost all stores have gone MIA. But it doesn’t stop there. Bleach, disinfectant sprays, and virtually any product that claims to kill germs are nearly impossible to get these days unless you’re considered essential.
Though no one envisioned things getting this severe, it’s a stark reminder that we should keep a healthy supply of essential items at all times.
The lesson to takeaway is that you should maintain a stock of essential items at all times in case of an emergency or pandemic.
Keep these items handy and always available at your facility or home by buying in bulk. This can also save you money in the long run, as prices for some of these items have soared amid price gouging wars.
4. THE HUGE ROLE HEALTHCARE PERSONNEL AND FIRST RESPONDERS PLAY IN THE WELLBEING AND SAFETY OF OUR SOCIETY
When the COVID-19 pandemic officially became a reality, our nurses, doctors, first responders, and healthcare staff didn’t hesitate to step up to protect and preserve lives. It’s easy to overlook and forget that these individuals play a crucial role in assuring our safety and well-being. Their sacrifices are often taken for granted and their hard work goes unnoticed and unappreciated.
Millions of healthcare workers are still leaving home every day, risking their lives to work around the clock without the proper supplies, equipment, and capacity to handle the astounding number of cases.
The lesson to takeaway is that while they are technically doing their jobs, healthcare professionals and first responders make sacrifices well beyond what we should expect from them to help maintain the safety and wellbeing of others.
We need to remember just how much these people are giving up so that we can stay at home and remain safe. As more healthcare professionals start to contract COVID-19, they are still bravely pushing forward to do all they can to care for the rest of us.
5. HOW VULNERABLE THE ELDERLY AND PEOPLE WITH UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS ARE TO INFECTION AND SICKNESS
Once COVID-19 deaths were confirmed, a concerning pattern began to form. This new virus mostly affected elderly adults, especially those over 80. Nursing homes were among the hardest-hit groups. One Seattle nursing home may have to pay over $600,000 in fines and lose their federal funding due to their improper handling of the outbreak which resulted in over 24 COVID-19 related deaths.
Two Chicago-area nursing homes have also seen a startling trend emerge. One center in Willowbrook, IL went from one confirmed case to 46 confirmed cases only 4 days later. The pandemic has reminded us of how susceptible people over the age of 65 and those who have underlying health conditions truly are to infection.
There are simple steps to follow to help keep our most vulnerable safe, and a lot of it comes down to practicing good and consistent cleaning habits that also prevent the spread of other infections that disproportionately impact them.
The lesson to takeaway is that while anyone can become infected and seriously ill with COVID-19, the elderly and those with underlying health issues are much more at risk than the rest of us.
Therefore it’s our responsibility to do our part to protect them and keep them safe. This includes regular cleaning and disinfecting and practicing good personal hygiene as well as offering additional assistance and support.
6. PROPER HANDWASHING
The World Health Organization promotes handwashing as one of the best forms of protection against coronavirus, yet around 70% of people admitted to not washing their hands with soap after using the restroom.
However, after it was discovered that COVID-19 can also be transferred through contaminated or infected hands, the CDC launched a global campaign to spread awareness about the importance of handwashing.
Amazingly, many people confessed to not knowing how to wash their hands properly. Common handwashing mistakes include not washing hands long enough (20 seconds is the minimum), not using antibacterial soap, and not washing in between fingers and under nails to name a few.
Once the pandemic subsides, there’s no doubt that more people will continue to wash their hands more frequently and more effectively to prevent illness.
The lesson to takeaway is that you need to wash your hands! Here are some simple hand washing tips:
- Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water (sing Happy Birthday twice)
- Use antibacterial soap if it’s available
- Scrub hands thoroughly
- Don’t forget to get under fingernails and in between fingers
A PANDEMIC CAN HAPPEN AGAIN – BACTERIA AND VIRUSES AREN’T GOING AWAY
Health experts estimate that COVID-19 won’t subside for a year and that we’ll experience several periods of Shelter In Place orders as it peaks in waves over multi-month stretches. But even once this pandemic is over, these lessons will be useful for living a healthier life and for navigating any type of pathogen-based outbreak.
The truth is that bacteria and viruses are becoming more resilient and even our antibiotics and vaccines can’t always be relied on. We’ll need to carry these disinfecting, hand washing, and disinfecting habits into the future to help keep ourselves, our families, and our businesses safe.
This article can serve as a resource to help prepare you for the ongoing fight against germs. While there’s no guarantee that they’ll never spread or never enter your facility, you can do small things to keep them from causing infection and destruction.
Want to read more about COVID-19? Read our other COVID-19 pieces as part of our series:
Simple Coronavirus Protection Tips
How Coronavirus Spreads
How To Kill Coronavirus on Porous and Non-Porous Surfaces in 5 Steps
What is Coronavirus?
How Long Can Coronavirus Live On Surfaces?
How To Promote Handwashing In Your Facility
5 Coronavirus Myths Debunked
Coronavirus Prevention Tips For Businesses