Those of us living with pre-existing, chronic conditions such as obesity have likely felt the impact of COVID-19. Medical appointments may have been rescheduled or switched to virtual, work and school may be closed, and we may worry about how the illness will impact ourselves and our loved ones. For older people and those with conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, we may worry about increased risk of serious complications from COVID-19 infection.
Fortunately, social distancing is a powerful tool to slow or prevent the spread of infection. Social distancing only works when everyone stays home and limits their contact with others.
Some of us have family members or friends who think the threat of the virus is being blown out of proportion. They may pressure you to join in activities as usual or become upset when you cancel plans to help keep yourself and your community safe during this high-risk time.
Here are some tactics that may help you talk to them about why health — yours, theirs, and the community's — should be everyone's first priority right now.
Ask them to walk in your shoes. Ask them to imagine what you must be going through. Maybe your loved one thinks they will be fine, but you may be more vulnerable to being severely impacted. If your doctors have canceled or modified your appointments, share how your medical care is being affected. If your health care provider has recommended any additional precautions you should take, share that as well.
According to research on COVID-19 in China, people who had one additional disease — from diabetes to cardiovascular disease to cancer — had a 79 percent higher risk of requiring intensive care, needing a respirator, or dying as a result of the coronavirus infection.
Six in 10 adults in America have at least one chronic illness.
The threat of COVID-19 was deemed serious enough to affect major institutions:
These organizations are prioritizing public health over the hundreds of millions of dollars (or more) they will lose by closing. If we can stay home, we should stay home.
If you have any other friends or family who are taking the coronavirus threat seriously, ask them to talk to that loved one on your behalf. Social distancing only works if everyone is on board.
As our families, communities, and countries make it through this pandemic together, it's more important than ever to find ways to stay connected. Here are a few suggestions for ways to socialize from a safe distance.
MyObesityTeam is another way our community of 46,000 members living with obesity stays strong together. Have you found ways to talk to your loved ones about COVID-19 safety measures? What are you doing to stay connected to others during this time of heightened concern and social distancing? Share in the comments below or post on MyObesityTeam.