Guest column: We can do this!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Who would have thought in the last three weeks, we would be learning how to social distance ourselves, how to work from home, how to stay at home and relearn an old way of communicating -- the phone, but we can do it!  I am so glad that I live and work in Arkansas and Carroll County. I have always said that we are a loving, supportive community and we care about each other. We know that to protect our family, friends and community, we are going to have to do the tough stuff to get through this situation. 

Let’s look at what they are asking us to do. First, washing our hands.  Although, we should do this all the time anyway, because this can reduce our chances of colds, flu and other illness, too, it is very important to do it now.  The secret is to use soap and water for a period of 20 seconds (Happy Birthday song twice) scrubbing the back of the hands, palm of the hands and between the fingers, fingernails, the thumbs and the back of hands. Another thing to remember is that your wrists need to be washed too. When you’re done washing, be sure to dry your hands because germs and viruses love moisture and depend on that to grow on.  We can do this!

The next thing is social distancing.  Social distancing is asking that we stay at least six feet apart from others when we are out in public.  Why six feet? Without a cough or a sneeze, if we exhale, the distance three to six feet from each other is called the breathing zone. Moreover, it’s in that kind of volume of air that what we exhale begins to mix with the air that’s already in the room. So, if you’re standing within three to six feet of someone, you may well inhale what someone else has exhaled. And of course if someone you are next to has the virus, then what they are exhaling microscopically contains the virus.  So think about the distance of two golden retrievers as the distance of six feet. We can do this!

The next thing is staying at home. This is just what it means. Stay home.  I realize that we seem to be the only ones that were doing this in the beginning, but now with the help of the governor closing or limiting access to our state parks and the closing of the Buffalo National River accesses this will help others to do this, too. We are so lucky to be able to walk outdoors on our own land and enjoy nature. We don’t have to travel to take in the beauty of Carroll County and Arkansas. With that being said, we should stay away from popular tourist spots and rely on our own backyards for our daily dose of beauty, exercise and love of nature. Only send one person to the store and make sure they’re taking proper precautions while out and when they return home, for example, wash their clothes, take a shower and wipe down the boxes and cans.  We can do this!

Next thing is no larger than ten people in a social setting.  For some of you that means your entire family.  Usually at this time, our largest social gathering would be our churches and our schools and school events.  Our community has come together to learn new ways to have church services and not only educate our children but feed them as well.  We can do this!

Last is to wear or not wear a mask. The CDC has suggested that we should be wearing a mask when we are out and about. It doesn’t have to a medical-grade mask; a homemade 100 percent cotton cloth mask could keep you from spreading the virus or maybe catching the virus from someone else. The Extension Homemakers Clubs and 4-H youth clubs in Carroll County have been making masks for our community hospitals, extended care facilities,  police department, fire department, family members, area businesses as well as others. I have many allergies and spring is here so I will be wearing a mask to protect myself and give others ease when I am coughing. We can do this!

This is only for short period of time in the span of our lives and we will make it through. Today, let’s make connections with each other by phone, enjoy family that is home with us and make use of this time. I have been so encouraged by all the posts on our social media and phone calls from 4-H members and their families and my EHC members.   

We are Carroll County Tough and Arkansas Strong. If you need any assistance from the Carroll County Extension Office we are in and ready to assist you. #StillOnTheJob  Please call the office at 870-423.2958.  The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity, equal access and  affirmative action institution.

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Tamara Allen is the family consumer science agent for the Carroll County Extension Office.