Okay, before I start, let me say I’m not just an author of fiction, I’m also educated and trained in the research of sterile conditions and infectious diseases. Do I consider myself an expert? No. Do I consider myself knowledgeable? Hell yes.
While I think all of the below is important, I’ll put the most important aspects first. Warning: this contains profanity and sex analogies because then people will read it.
Remember when you were younger, and people tried to scare you away from having sex? You do? Good, so do I. Then you remember that whole, “You have sex with everyone your partner has had sex with.” Well, that concept applies to more than sexually transmitted nasties, it also applies to most viruses. Allow me to explain…Say someone who coughs or sneezes in their hand touches a doorknob, and then you touch the doorknob, and then you touch another doorknob because holy shit does your office building have a lot of fucking doorknobs. Then, once you’re back at your cubicle your tongue detects a slight inconsistency in your gum line, so you use your fingers to get that black bean skin out of your teeth. Guess what? Yeah, doorknob virus! And probably fecal bacteria too. Moral of the story: wash your fucking hands! People are nasty.
“But Serena, if I don’t cover my mouth, I’ll sneeze on you. Is that what you want? Are you into people spraying you with their wetness?”
Did you have to phrase it that way? Jeez. Okay, I do get skeezed out when I see motion capture pics of sneezing people. However, you know what’s just as gross? Sneezing or coughing into their bare hand, rubbing their hand on clothes to “dry” it, and then shaking someone’s hand or again, touching the doorknob. Gross. So please, when “covering your mouth” do so in the crook of your elbow. It’ll look like you’re dabbing. That’s still cool, right?
Now, he’s another sucky thing about infectious disease, it doesn’t care if you have health insurance or an understanding employer. It is non-discriminatory. So, if you’re ill, you should stay at home. However, there are millions of people who don’t have that luxury. They don’t have insurance and they to go to work so they can earn money to survive. THIS IS WHY EVERYONE NEEDS HEALTH CARE so people can stay home, recover from illness, and not spread infectious diseases. And yeah, unfortunately, people who are sick will work and touch doorknobs. How can you protect yourself from that? Eek…that’s a tough one. Unfortunately, the best way is isolation, and while that sucks for the economy, it’s true. A better way, a way that isn’t so harmful for the economy, and lets healthy people live non-hermit lives is that EMPLOYERS SHOULD GIVE THEIR EMPLOYEES SICK TIME.
Working while ill has another side of the coin which I’d like to address. It’s the individual who has insurance, a flexible employer, and still comes to work sick. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? You’re exposing a countless amount of people to your illness. People who might be immune suppressed. People who might catch it and be able to fight it, but then go home to loved ones who are immune suppressed. Think of a baby’s parents or a person with multiple sclerosis who needs to take immune suppressants. Do you think they’ll be understanding of that fact that you, “Just had to come into work.” That’s selfish. Get over yourself, stay home, telework, or binge watch something. Or read a book (Dreams is available wherever books are sold :) ).
Now, I want to talk about virus structure because it’s important to clearing a few misconceptions. Viruses are as different as animals, think worm verses human. Some viruses have DNA in their insides, some have RNA (and there is much more to it than that). In addition, different viruses have different types of proteins and sugars on their outsides. These proteins and glycoproteins are used to determine vaccines and also the types of cells in your body the virus can infect. There are respiratory viruses like COVID-19 (that’s the new coronavirus) and influenza. And there are other viruses which infect other types of cells like how HIV infects T-cells. A great way to prepare your body for potentially getting a virus is by GETTING A VACCINE if one is available. Yes, not everyone is physically able to receive one, but if you can, please do. Unfortunately, a vaccine for COVID-19 is not available yet. But you know what makes vaccine development happen faster, MONEY FOR RESEARCH AND NOT A FUCKING USELESS WALL.
One last thing. Each one of us lives in a different part of the world. Listen to the travel advisory for your country! Almost every country has a public health website, go there if you’re concerned and/or need to travel internationally.
So, in conclusion (and some other random thoughts):
Now, I’m sure someone out there will create a rebuttal because they enjoy licking doorknobs and driving their luxury car while the people who work for them live in poverty, but people, for the love of all that is holy do not post some fake non-science link about how to combat infectious disease. I hate that.