Practical Information and Important links about COVID-19

Coping with the Coronavirus (CODIV-19) Pandemic

20 March 2020

Message from Dave McGuffey, OSLC Emergency Preparedness (EP) and Disaster Response (DR) Coordinator.

Please read!

***** ALERT Open Arms Child Development Center (OACCDC) is in dire need of hand sanitizer, disposable disinfecting wipes, and disposable gloves. If you have more than you need, a donation will go a long way to helping them stay safe and stay open. OACCDC: openarms@oslclaurel.org and 240.568.9352. ALERT *****

This is the first of probably several posts concerning this topic.

After Liz DeMik held Lutheran Early Response Team (LERT) training last fall, I was asked and volunteered to be the OSLC EP and DR coordinator. As often happens, life events delayed my effort to get organized quickly. The arrival of this COVID-19 pandemic and associated declaration of a national and state-level emergencies brings both EP and DR to the forefront.

It is too late for us to prepare in advance of COVID-19, so we are now forced into a response mode. Once this crisis is behind us, OSLC will focus on how to better prepare our members, our church organization and facilities, and our community for a future emergency/disaster. However, for now, it is time to focus on how to cope with the current one.

There is a lot of information about this pandemic. In many ways there is too much information and a lot if is stale/old, or simply incorrect. Social media contains good, bad, and ugly information. And sadly, cyber-criminals are leveraging the crisis for financial gain. For accurate and up-to-date information go to the three official U.S. Government sites and be very careful about clicking on links in text messages, e-mails, and social media posts. Look for a fully expanded link (like the three below) to ensure you are going to the proper location:

https://www.coronavirus.gov/ – A U.S. Gov’t Coronavirus information consolidator

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus – Information about the virus and medical/sanitation guidance

https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus – An information consolidator for the U.S. Gov’t including COVID-19

More information will be posted to the OSLC public and private Facebook pages and on the OSLC website: https://oslclaurel.org

Other Official Federal, State, and Local Government Information.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a site dealing with pandemics in general and links to information about COVID-19: https://www.ready.gov/pandemic .

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has guidance about disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus It also contains information about the safety of drinking water: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-drinking-water-and-wastewater

State of Maryland: Maryland has assembled information from a wide variety of official sources. https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/

City of Laurel: https://www.cityoflaurel.org/coronavirus

Prince Georges County: https://www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/3397/Coronavirus

Anne Arundel County: https://www.aacounty.org/coronavirus/

https://aacounty.org/departments/office-of-emergency-management

Howard County: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments/Health/MM-Alerts-and-Recalls

Financial Stress.

This pandemic will pass. However, it will leave much economic and financial wreckage for businesses, employees, our congregational members and their families, and our neighbors. The mandated shutdown of many businesses will leave people without paychecks for several weeks. Some businesses will not survive and will not reopen their doors. As Christians we need to roll up our sleeves and help each other and our neighbors.

Most Federal assistance (like the bill that just passed both the House and Senate and was signed by the President) is in the form of block grants to the States or temporary low-cost loans to businesses. It will take time for this Federal assistance to flow. Assistance to individuals will therefore mostly come from state, county, and municipal organizations.

Many in our congregation and our local community live paycheck to paycheck and don’t know where the money will come from to pay bills. My next letter will contain more information about financial assistance and daily needs as I collect information on those resources. In the meantime, don’t forget that unemployment compensation may be available through your State or County government. Here are some links that may be of help:

U.S. Dept. of Health and & Human Services (HHS): https://www.hhs.gov/ HHS has links that guide the public on how to obtain Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): https://www.hhs.gov/programs/social-services/index.html

District of Columbia Unemployment: https://does.dc.gov/service/unemployment-compensation-process

Maryland Unemployment: https://dbm.maryland.gov/employees/Pages/DisApplyforUnemploymentBenefits.aspx

Some Tips.

Don’t Mix Chemicals. Mixing disinfectants can be dangerous. EPA has a list of disinfectants and chemicals that are effective against COVID-19, they can be dangerous if mixed. DHS has put out a warning that was issued by the Washington State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/YouandYourFamily/HealthyHome/Contaminants/BleachMixingDangers

  • Bleach + vinegar = chlorine gas. This can lead to coughing, breathing problems, burning and watery eyes. Chlorine gas and water also combine to make hydrochloric and nypochlorous acids.

  • Bleach + ammonia = chloramine. This can cause shortness of breath and chest pain.ĵBleach + rubbing alcohol = chloroform. This is highly toxic.

  • Hydrogen peroxide + vinegar = peracetic/peroxyacetic acid. This can be highly corrosive.

Disinfecting. We have become dependent upon these disposable wipes. And the run on them in the stores means you may soon or have already run out of them. What did your parents or grandparents do before there were disposable wipes? Mine used a bucket/pan of soapy water or a 10:1 mix of water and chlorine bleach. It was applied with a dish rag/bath washcloth to clean or disinfect surfaces. A new pan/bucket was mixed each day. A single gallon of chlorine bleach will last a long time for this purpose.

Disinfecting Wipes—make your own. Put a stack of paper napkins in a 9”x9” baking pan. Pour enough of the soapy water or 10:1 chlorine bleach mix onto the stack to lightly wet them. Cover with cellophane wrap. When you need one pull back the wrap and remove a napkin. Alternative to napkins would be separated sheets of paper towels or those shop towels you can find in Lowes/Home Depot. The best solution would be the cloth shop/paint towels that can be tossed in the washer and reused.

Disinfecting Wipes On the Go. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a few paper napkins or paper shop towels. Squirt a small amount of the sanitizer on the napkin and wipe down the surface (e.g., shopping cart handle).

Nitrile Gloves. If you don’t find them at the drug stores, look for them at Lowes/Home Depot in the paint and outdoor chemical departments. Know how to properly take them off so you don’t contaminate your hands.

Car Keys, Eye Glasses ,and Hearing Aids. Don’t forget to wipe the keys and hearing aids—same for the mobile phone. Eye glasses can be dunked in soapy water.

Update/Patch PCs and Mobile Devices. Cyber-criminals are using this event to push malware to unsuspecting victims and then demanding payment to remove the malware or unlock your data. Most basic protection is to ensure your PC and mobile operating system and all of the applications are updated/patched. Also run a well-known and highly-rated anti-virus/malware security suite. Symantec-Norton and McAfee are both approved by the U.S. Government to run on their computers. AND DON’T click on links in text messages, e-mails, and social media from people you don’t know. Even if you know them, be cautious because they could have been tricked into forwarding/sharing something nefarious.

Final Thoughts.

Consider Others: You may be young and/or healthy and will fly through this without any medical symptoms. That is great. However, it is not about YOU—it is about having consideration for those in the high-risk population. Consider their safety. Follow the CDC and State Governor’s guidance. Practice the basic hygiene and social distancing. Don’t gather for parties, picnics, and other private events. Don’t be the “Typhoid Mary” that carries the disease to someone else. The U.S. Surgeon General recently pleaded with the younger members of the public to consider the high-risk population, such as their grandparents and great grandparents—TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY.

A lot of helping hands are going to be needed to get OSLC, Open Arms and our members, families and community through this emergency. For those of you already engaged in helping others, thank you and please let me know by replying to this email or DisasterResponse@oslclaurel.org. This will be monitored and will ensure that our efforts are coordinated, and help avoid duplication and shore up the gaps.

Disaster Response. If you are interested in volunteering to assist others after an emergency/disaster has occurred, please let us know at: DisasterResponse@oslclaurel.org.

Emergency Preparedness. If you are interested in preparing for the NEXT emergency or helping others prepare, please let us know at EmergencyPreparedness@oslclaurel.org

Survey of OSLC. I’m willing to lead and organize these two missions, but will need volunteers to carry them out. So, at a future date I’ll be conducting a “Ministry Minute” on EP and DR followed by a congregation-wide survey of EP and DR passions and skills. With the results, I’ll form groups of like-minded members and organize training for them to carry out the passion they have for helping.

If you have questions, please e-mail DisasterResponse@oslclaurel.org

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