Recommended sources of facts about the new coronavirus:
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Iowa Department of Public Health
- Wisconsin Department of Health
- Federation of American Scientists’ Ask a Scientist Page
- New York Times Coronavirus Newsletter (free sign-up)
- Dubuque Telegraph Herald especially for local closings and other Tri-State news (free online access to all COVID-19 news)
Stay-At-Home Orders for Illinois and Wisconsin Residents
Congregants living in Illinois and Wisconsin should be aware of the stay-at-home orders applicable to their states:
*Note: These are the dates posted as of March 24th and are subject to change.
Congregants living in Iowa are strongly encouraged to take similar precautions, which includes:
- Stay at home, except for essential activities (e.g. getting groceries, travel for medical care, travel for work if considered an essential function)
- Public and private gatherings of any number of people that are not part of a single household or living unit are discouraged, unless they are able to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from one another.
COVID-19 in Dubuque – Smart Ways to Cope & Be Safe
(Please note: Information about area businesses could change at any moment)
With six diagnosed cases in Dubuque County as of March 23, and an estimated 200 undiagnosed (according to Dr. Bobby Koneru, Dubuque Board of Health medical liaison), many of us are wondering how to shelter at home while still connecting with our friends and family, and doing necessary business. Below, some ideas:
- What if the governor issues a “shelter at home” order for Iowa? These orders vary slightly by state, but most require the following: Remain at home except to 1) buy groceries, 2) go to the pharmacy, 3) get curbside restaurant delivery, or 4) walk your dog. Workers providing essential care or services are also allowed to travel to and from work.
- How can I get groceries? The safest way is to order online and go there for pickup, usually free for a minimum order. An employee will put the bags in your car. For now, some stores are reserving (as much as they can) certain early hours for people at most risk, including seniors and those with underlying medical conditions: Hy-Vee, 7 – 8 a.m., Fareway, 8 – 9 a.m. Cloth bags cannot be used. Check online or call your favorite store. If wipes are available, use to sanitize your cart.
- Is antibacterial soap necessary? No, plain soap is best. COVID-19 is a virus, not bacteria, which is what antibacterial products are designed to fight. The best advisors say that plain soap and water are better than any sanitizer at killing viruses.
- Can I make my own hand sanitizer? Recipes abound online, only some of them effective. They must contain 91% alcohol to be effective.
- How can I connect with my friends? Telephone, email, text. You can do a conference call with a smart phone for group conversations. When the weather warms up, you can meet in a park, as long as you keep your distance. (See next item)
- Is it okay to go outside? So far, experts are saying it’s a good thing to get some fresh air, whether walking your dog or going to a park. Be sure to maintain a 6-foot distance to avoid spreading or catching the virus.
- How should I greet a friend if I do see them at the grocery store or outdoors? Even a fist bump can spread germs, so try a virtual hug, or bow. Don’t blow kisses!
- What about seeing my grandkids? Recent evidence from the NIH says that younger people, while less likely to die of COVID-19, do act as carriers. If you are a caregiver, teach them to wash hands frequently (especially when they arrive), wipe off any toys or playground equipment with disinfectant, and keep them 6 feet from others if you take them to a park.
- What about seeing older family members? Resist the urge. You may be carrying the virus for 14 days before you show any symptoms. Find another way to connect with them – telephone, real letters, or email if they are comfortable with technology. You could record a video with your phone and send it via email or text. All visitation has been forbidden for those in nursing homes. The person who brings the virus may be you.
- May I attend funerals or weddings? At this time, it is wise to postpone as much as possible. Many funerals are including just the immediate family, with plans to have a larger memorial service when the crisis is over.
- How can I get a book, with the libraries (and possibly bookstores) closed? You can order books from Amazon, where used ones in good condition go for as little as $4.00.
- What’s a safe way to buy gas? Lots of people touch the screens and hold the handles, so use sanitizer as soon as possible when you’re done, and avoid touching your face. Wash your hands thoroughly when you get home, or do it carefully in the station’s restroom. Use paper towels to use faucets and handles.
- If I don’t want to cook, am I stuck with just fast food from drive-up windows? Many dine-in restaurants in the Tri-State area are offering take-out meals. Call ahead for Thai, Japanese, gourmet American. Check the TH for a complete list, or call. All COVID-19 information is now free at THonline.com for all.
- How can I safely send mail? You can leave stamped letters in your mailbox for pickup. For packages, the Post Office, as well as substations at the Hartig Drug Stores on Central, University, and JFK, are currently open. Workers are wearing latex gloves. Observe the 6-foot rule with anyone you encounter, and use hand sanitizer as soon as you leave the store.
- What about out-of-town trips? These are discouraged, mainly because you will be exposed to other people, and use public restrooms. Postpone anything but emergency travel, and if you must go, observe the 6-foot rule, wash your hands frequently, and carry hand sanitizer. Air travel is especially risky due to encounters with people and uncertain cleaning.
- How can I see my therapist? Many are conducting sessions by phone, Skype, or Facetime. AA and other group support meetings are also going virtual.
- I want so much to have people over, or to visit them. Sorry, this one is no-go. To protect them and yourself, postpone it.
- What about having repair people over to fix things? This is also ill-advised. People who normally come over to fix your computer, give you private yoga lessons (just kidding), or clean your house should be postponed. If the only toilet in your house breaks, then call a plumber, although it is unclear if these businesses will be allowed to remain open in a strict quarantine. Be sure they observe strict protocols for reducing viral transmission to you and your home.
- How should I clean my home? Wipe down surfaces that people touch, especially door knobs, handles, and counters, with disinfectant spray and wipe with a paper towel. If you missed the rush to buy paper towels, use cloths and wash them. Soap is the best antiviral, so you can use a few drops of dish soap in water. No disinfectant? Use bleach mixed with water (1/3 cup per gallon of water).
- How can I order things online if I’ve never done it before? Call a tech-savvy friend or church member for help. They can also help you find free entertainment on your phone.
- What about getting my hair done? Sorry, all salons and barber shops have been closed. Grow out your hair, put it up with clips, get creative. If you usually have the salon color your hair, order some online and have fun with it!
- How can I know if someone I see, like a stranger holding the door for me, has the virus? Unfortunately, you can’t. This virus can infect a person yet show no symptoms for up to 14 days. That is why these changes to our daily lives are so important.
- I had a pneumonia shot a year ago, so I’m safe, right? No, sorry. Experts say no previous shots will prevent the kind of pneumonia this virus is causing.
- Is it true that supplements will help me avoid or treat this? There is no proof, just a lot of myths and hype. Health experts agree that supplements will not help, and large doses can do harm.
- Will a mask protect me from getting the virus? Most experts say no. Masks, which are in short supply, are for medical personnel and for anyone who tests positive. But if you have the symptoms and are self-isolating with family, using an improvised mask made from a scarf or cut-up cloth is not a bad idea. Latex gloves are helpful but must be washed after every use, just as you wash your hands.
- What if I have symptoms? If you have a fever, dry cough, and/or trouble breathing, don’t panic. Call your doctor. (Many have online services like Patient Station or MyChart). Do not go to the doctor or Acute Care unless you are told to. You will probably be advised to isolate yourself (not only from friends/strangers but also from other members of your household). There are not enough test kits to go around right now, so they are being reserved for those at highest risk, such as the elderly and those with underlying heart, lung, and other conditions.
Information is taken from sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and local medical experts.