It seems like an unusually rough flu season, even for people who got the shot. And the double whammy of the Coronavirus has many of us on edge. The CDC has a robust collection of up-to-the-minute information and tips here.
When I first wrote this post, I think we were all in a zone of disbelief and inclined to believe what would soon become fiction. It’s “there, not here.” It’s “happening to old people with health conditions, not young people.” It’s everywhere, happening to anyone. In a matter of days, this situation turned very serious, very scary, and has most of us grounded at home. School is out for many communities for a TBD amount of time. Non-essential businesses have been asked to close. Who could have imagined a time when we would only be allowed to leave home for the grocery store or doctor?
It’s a good reminder of the importance of hand washing and why we should avoid touching our face. Leave it to Ellen DeGeneres to provide some useful information infused with a great sense of humor at a very stressful time in our lives. This is clearly no joking matter, and I’m not bringing light to the seriousness of the situation, trust me. But if we can learn some new safety habits that will become our new normal for a while and smile along the way, maybe we’ll be part of fighting this battle one step at a time.
Even as the lockdowns across the country are starting to decrease, the reality is that the spread of COVID-19 has impacted tens of thousands of families. If this modern-day scourge has not visited you and your family, then consider yourself lucky. However, this does not mean that it will not happen in the future, and with that in mind, here are some tips on what to do when someone in your house has COVID.
It does not matter if you or someone you love has a mild or severe case of COVID; the mere presence of the disease needs to be taken seriously. This is not only because of the ease in which the virus can spread but also because it is new to humans. As such, doctors are still working on treatment options as well as the much hoped for vaccine.
Another reason for taking the virus seriously is that some studies have found that it can spread quickly between family members or others who live in close quarters.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Even if you cannot get tested, you will want to take steps to keep everyone safe.
This includes separating family members who might be sick, taking special care to any dishes, cups, and laundry items. Also, you will want to think about how to handle bathroom arrangements.
Yes, this can get complicated, but there is a need to keep everyone apart as much as possible if COVID visits your home.
While the Washington State Department of Health, recommends that family members without symptoms should stay in another part of the home or a different place of residence, this might not always be possible. As such, you will want to take every step you can to keep family members separated – especially if you are living in an apartment.
This can happen by setting aside one part of the apartment just for those with symptoms and by making sure precautions are taken when family members come in contact.
If sharing the bathroom is a challenge, then you want to make sure it is cleared every time that someone uses it. It does not matter if the person using the bathroom is suspected of having COVID or not; the risk that the disease can be passed on is too high and should be taken seriously.
When cleaning, the ideal mix is nine-parts water to one-part bleach as this will help to clean and disinfect all surfaces. Take this advice seriously as some studies have shown that the disease can be spread by fecal matter and other bodily fluids.
Also, if you have a pet, then you will want to keep the pet away from those suspected of having the disease. While the odds of your cat or dog contracting COVID are low, there have been cases of human-to-animal transmission as such. It is better to be safe than sorry.
In terms of treatment, Dr. Michael Hochman, M.D., associate professor of medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, notes that you will want to give any suspected family member plenty of fluids and rest. Also, cold and flu medications can be useful. However, if symptoms get worse, then you will want to seek medical attention immediately.
This is because over-the-counter medications might not be effective against COVID, and some do have side effects if not safely used. Also, you might want to consider using a neti pot to help clear out the patient’s nasal passages. Regular temperature checks can also be useful as it will help to see if the disease is worsening.
For caregivers, you will always want to wear a mask and might even want to consider a face shield..
The reason for wearing protective equipment, even cloth masks, is because the disease is primarily spread through the mucus membranes. Also, you will want to wear gloves whenever coming in contact with the patient or with something they have touched, such as dishes and glasses.
Remember to clean everything thoroughly, if possible, use a dishwasher, and sanitize all items after use. Also, remember to properly handle protective items when taking them off to limit the spread of the virus.
A University of Texas at Dallas study of 100 mobile apps for kids found that 72 violated a federal law aimed at protecting children’s online privacy.
Dr. Kanad Basu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and lead author of the study, along with colleagues elsewhere, developed a tool that can determine whether an Android game or other mobile app complies with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The researchers introduced and tested their “COPPA Tracking by Checking Hardware-Level Activity,” or COPPTCHA, tool in a study published in the March edition of IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security. The tool was 99% accurate. Researchers continue to improve the technology, which they plan to make available for download at no cost.Basu said games and other apps that violate COPPA pose privacy risks that could make it possible for someone to determine a child’s identity and location. He said the risk is heightened as more people are accessing apps from home, rather than public places, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Suppose the app collects information showing that there is a child on Preston Road in Plano, Texas, downloading the app. A trafficker could potentially get the user’s email ID and geographic location and try to kidnap the child. It’s really, really scary,” Basu said.
Apps can access personal identifiable information, including names, email addresses, phone numbers, location, audio and visual recordings, and unique identifiers for devices such as an international mobile equipment identity (IMEI), media access control (MAC) addresses, Android ID and Android advertising ID.
The advertising ID, for example, allows app developers to collect information on users’ interests, which they can then sell to advertisers.
“When you download an app, it can access a lot of information on your cellphone,” Basu said. “You have to keep in mind that all this info can be collected by these apps and sent to third parties. What do they do with it? They can pretty much do anything. We should be careful about this.”
The researchers’ technique accesses a device’s special-purpose register, a type of temporary data-storage location within a microprocessor that monitors various aspects of the microprocessor’s function. Whenever an app transmits data, the activity leaves footprints that can be detected by the special-purpose register.
COPPA requires that websites and online services directed to children obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from anyone younger than 13; however, as Basu’s research found, many popular apps do not comply. He found that many popular games designed specifically for young children revealed users’ Android IDs, Android advertising IDs and device descriptions.
Basu recommends that parents use caution when downloading or allowing children to download apps.
“If your kid asks you to download a popular game app, you’re likely to download it,” Basu said. “A problem with our society is that many people are not aware of — or don’t care about — the threats in terms of privacy.”
Basu advises keeping downloads to a minimum.
“I try to limit my downloading of apps as much as possible,” Basu said. “I don’t download apps unless I need to.”
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Intel Corp. and New York University also contributed to the work.