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The coronavirus COVID-19 is out in full force and has been for a while. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world have been affected by the pandemic, some groups more than others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists people who are over the age of 65, those who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility and those who have underlying health conditions such as moderate to severe asthma or serious heart conditions among people who are at a higher risk for severe illness caused by COVID-19. 

The World Health Organization states that most people who are infected with the virus “will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.” However, people that are at a higher risk, like myself, are more prone to serious illness, which is where most deaths stem. 

As a person who has lived with severe asthma my whole life, the novel coronavirus is a particularly scary situation. Some of my earliest memories involve waking up in the middle of the night, sweating up a storm, coughing out a lung or two and going through numerous rotations in and out of the hospital emergency room. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been diagnosed with severe cases of pneumonia. My illnesses got so bad that I had to carry an inhaler with me everywhere I went, accompanied by an EpiPen in case I ever had a serious allergic reaction to anything. It was just a part of my routine. 

I no longer suffer from such extreme asthma attacks, which I’m certainly grateful for. Despite this, I get flare-ups of my asthma whenever I do get sick, even if it’s just a common cold — which is a form of coronavirus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to the Mayo Clinic, the coronavirus is a respiratory disease, meaning that it directly affects the functioning of the respiratory system, including the lungs. This is why COVID-19 is something that I, and most higher-risk individuals, approach with utmost caution. 

Due to the pandemic, I have been taking precautionary steps to ensure that I stay safe and stay healthy, just like many people around the world. The CDC says the best ways to help protect yourself is by often cleaning your hands and avoiding close contact. Personally, I have taken social distancing to the next level: self-isolation.

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By implementing a self-isolation strategy, I can lower my chances of being infected significantly. The only time I leave my house is to go outside and exercise. I make sure to not come into contact with anyone who doesn’t live in my house, since I can never fully know who they’ve come into contact with. I have always considered myself to practice good hygiene, but due to this coronavirus, I’ve become more aware of my hygiene and amped it up with habits such as cleaning anything I touch on a regular basis. This just gives me a sense of security, knowing that I have done everything to make sure I don’t get sick. 

As of April 8, the Talisman reported 1,346 cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth of Kentucky, with 403 being reported in my home county, Jefferson County. While 403 cases doesn’t seem like too many compared to places like New York or California, that number is only going to rise as the days pass. So, as the numbers rise, it gives me more of an incentive to stay home and find things to occupy my time while I’m not tuned into a Zoom class meeting.

I have started to read a lot more now, since reading is a good way to kill time and become invested in a world completely different from the one we currently live in. It provides a sense of release from the chaotic world on the outside, and I can just zone out and read whatever, fully immersing myself and letting my worrying mind rest. On top of reading, I’ve also been focused on making sure I exercise daily. I try and go outside as much as possible, but when it rains, I have a list of indoor workouts that I do to keep active.

The COVID-19 pandemic is definitely nothing to joke about or take lightly. It has directly impacted thousands of people worldwide and indirectly impacted millions of others. In a time surrounded by uncertainty and fear, it’s so crucial to keep our heads up and do whatever we can to help protect everyone. So stay home, stay away from people, and stay safe whether you’re at high risk or not.

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