You can’t turn on the news these days without seeing news of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Some quilters have mentioned that they are concerned about upcoming quilt shows and if the virus outbreak will affect them. Many large conferences, even health-related ones, have been cancelled. Should we be concerned that the virus will affect quilting activities as well? (update on March 14, 2020: Most gatherings have been cancelled as per group choice, or state or provincial directives)
In my other life, when I’m not quilting, I’m an RN, a health writer, and an educator. I do a lot of research for my clients’ articles to ensure my work is as accurate as possible. Because of this, I’ve been following the COVID-19 news carefully.
Should we be scared of COVID-19?
Am I scared or worried about this new coronavirus? Not really. I do fall into one of the higher risk groups. I have cough-variant asthma and fibromyalgia. If I get so much as a cold, I get terribly sick. (Update March 14, 2020: Due to the fast moving news and spread of the virus, my husband and I are no longer going out except for walks for exercise and fresh air, and for necessary items – and then we try to time it to when stores are less busy, such as first thing in the morning.)
In February, I went to San Diego to meet with a client and colleagues and I wasn’t concerned. I might have been a bit more careful, a bit more diligent about cleaning surfaces, but I’ve been wiping down airplane trays and arm rests for a good while now, so it’s not new for me. I wash my hands frequently, use hand sanitizer when I can’t get to a sink. Masks are not part of my arsenal though. I don’t wear a mask because they are not advised to help prevent catching the infection. If I did have the infection, I would wear a mask if I was around other people because masks are best for that – keeping the infectious germs away from others. But I also know how to use a mask properly. Many people don’t.
Of course, my feelings towards the virus may change if we learn more. I don’t live in an area with many infected people. In fact, as I write this, there are only 2 confirmed and 2 possible cases in my province of Quebec. I might, probably even, feel differently if we had higher numbers. So, as the days go by, if more infections are detected here, I may become more worried. But as of right now, I’d say just a bit concerned.
Will COVID-19 force organizers to cancel quilt shows?
It is possible that some quilt shows will be cancelled. I imagine it’s a tough call to make for the organizers. They have to balance the need to fulfill their obligations to the hundreds or thousands of people who have committed to show and/or attend, with the need to keep the community as safe as possible from COVID-19.
As it stands now, I still go out and do things. Saturday night, my daughter was in town and we went out with her, our sons and assorted partners for dinner. The restaurant was packed. And I’m still planning on attending some events I’ve booked. For example, I’m supposed to attend a health writers conference in Austin, TX, in April and I still plan on being there unless I hear otherwise. The Vermont Quilt Festival is in June. That’s still a while away, but I intend to be there if I can.
If you would like to learn more about COVID-19, I wrote some information for Sepsis Alliance on COVID-19 and hand washing that you may find interesting. I hope it’s helpful.
For me, the key is not to panic but to be realistic. If you’re in the high-risk groups, which is people who have weak immune systems, have a chronic medical condition, or are older, it’s smart to pay attention to where you are going and what you are doing. These are the groups who are at highest risk for severe illness and complications. But so far, the news has indicated that most people recover from the virus without any lasting effects.
A word of advice
If I can add one more word of advice: Watch out where you get your information from. Facebook is full of postings that have been copied from we-don’t-know-where. The posts usually start with “I’m a doctor/nurse/healthcare professional and…”. While what they say may be true or have a grain of truth, we don’t really know who they are and if they are who they say they are. Get your information from trusted sources. In the United States, that would be the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). In Canada, it would be the Government of Canada website or your provincial government site.
It can be scary hearing about COVID-19 every time you read, hear, or watch the news. But if we watch out for each other, take care of ourselves and each other, we should be able to get past this and keep quilting to bring more joy and beauty to the world.