Following the advice from the song, “Don’t worry, be happy” isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s even harder for our first responders, law enforcement and medical workers who have to maintain incredible patience with people who might be anxious or depressed over their current situation. 

I believe our government initiating mitigation practices such as issuing a travel notice on January 6, for Wuhan China (before there was a single case reported in the U.S.) followed by travel restrictions, and finally a travel ban and mandatory quarantine on January 31, made a difference, but there were consequences. 

The virus is responsible for killing thousands of people worldwide and paralyzing the global economy. Locally, thousands of South Carolinians found themselves unemployed. People across the county have basically been locked up in their homes and locked out of their churches and businesses. Yet, big box stores have been packed with people, parties are held every weekend and the beaches, for the most part, have been covered in sunbathers. Restrictions are making a comeback in some states as we watch a new spike in cases.  

While this is going on, a new study at the National Institutes of Health was initiated to recruit adult volunteers to determine how many in the United States without a confirmed history of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have antibodies to the virus. The antibodies are produced after the body fights off the pathogen. The treatment however, is still debatable and scientists aren’t saying you can be protected if you contract the virus a second time. Remdesivir has been used successfully in a local elderly couple that were hospitalized with severe, life-threatening symptoms. Other treatments are also promising. 

As the CDC and a myriad of experts yet again determine what we should do during this ever evolving situation, ultimately it is up to the individual to make the right choice. Common sense should dictate that choice. Washing our hands and social distancing make perfect sense and whether we agree or disagree to wear a mask, is this small inconvenience so bad?

The good news (if you want to call it good news) is most people that contract COVID-19 will recover. The Department of Health and Environmental Control shows 89% of South Carolinians who become infected, recover. The data is based on the number of individuals that have symptom onset, not the number of cases in the state. And children seem to be infected less often and have milder symptoms. The Mayo Clinic reports children of all ages can become ill with coronavirus disease but most who are infected typically don’t become as sick as adults and some might not show any symptoms at all. The answer isn’t clear why children aren’t as severely affected. 

While we wait for our numbers to start dropping (maybe one day?) let’s put a smile on our faces. Smiling actually triggers the brain to release a plethora of feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. We may not have control over the virus but we do have control of our well-being. So let’s smile! This won’t last forever – I hope.

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