The topic for the Saturday, March 7th Nomad Chapter phone call was about methods for avoiding the COVID-19 (Corona) virus and still enjoying life on the road. The information shared by all during the call was meant to educate, not induce panic. Some very simple instructions can be followed which will reduce our chances of contracting the virus while still living our best lives.
A few of the take-aways from the meeting included:
- The nomad lifestyle may put us at lower risk for coming in contact with the virus;
- We don’t have to stay confined to our rigs to avoid the virus;
- The methods for decreasing our chances of contracting the virus can be simple and easy to follow – for brief periods of time
- Soap and water, hand sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol are your friends.
- Hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol (equivalent to no less than 120 proof vodka, etc. if that’s what you’ll use ).
- We still need people. Even if we practice social distancing, we need friends even more than usual due to the stress of the changes that the epidemic is causing around us and in our own day-to-day lives
- A place where you feel safe to let down your guard is very important.
- Whatever precautions we decide are right for us, we must be prepared to continue them for a long time – months, not weeks – and that’s harder than it sounds
When reading the following, remember that it is up to YOU to determine what level of risk/safety is appropriate for your own situation. The following is just Joanne’s lived experience told in I statements:
I am over 60 and an ex-smoker. I am travelling with two part-time nomads. We are all at higher than average risk of developing severe illness or possible death if we catch the virus. Before news of the virus broke, we had planned to travel together to Utah in March to explore the backroads by Jeep and to hike. We kept in touch with one another as the Corona virus information was coming out of China and started to plan our hygiene strategy. I am the only one of us who identifies as having a psychiatric disability.
The first thing we figured out is that the nomadic lifestyle, especially boondocking, is well suited for avoiding the places where the virus could be more easily contracted. On a daily basis, we are generally not coming in close contact with surfaces that have been contaminated or with people that are carrying the virus. Fresh air, sunshine, and wide-open spaces are much less likely to support the virus and much more likely to support our mental and physical health, especially when we get out and hike. There was no need to change our destination and general plan.
On the other side of the equation, we still have to buy gas and groceries and deal with any shortages or outages that affect the local areas. In addition, we need a somewhat more detailed plan than average for what to do if we do become ill, including how to find and get to a hospital if necessary.
Before the CDC guidelines came out, we had developed and unanimously agreed to abide by a system for greatly decreasing our chances of infection. The system, it turns out, is similar to the instructions the CDC is recommending for people at higher risk. However, when we first implemented the system, especially when we were in a populated area where we were stocking up on supplies, we found it was onerous and stressful to follow even for a day or two. None of us were happy and everyone was afraid of making a mistake. We also WERE making occasional mistakes.
It’s almost impossible, for example, not to touch one’s face many times a day, especially if, like me, you have memory and attention problems. The other two of us found it very difficult even without those challenges. It’s bad enough that we might infect ourselves, we each had to deal with the consequences of our lapses endangering the other two people in the group. If we were going to be able to consistently carry out our strategy we needed to severely limit the amount of time in which we needed to restrict our behavior. We did this by establishing safe and unsafe zones. We try to minimize the duration and/or number of times we visit an unsafe zone – something that became much easier when we removed the temptations of town by moving to a rural area. When in an unsafe zone we pay strict attention to everything we are acquiring, doing, and touching. Before entering our safe zones we make sure we have washed hands or sanitized hands and cleaned anything that we bring with us into the safe zone. Once in the safe zone we can go back to our normal, sloppy behaviors.
Our safe zones are outdoors and our rigs. We decided that everything we already we had in our vehicles was likely free of the Corona virus and that we had lived with and could continue to live with any other microbe that might be lurking in them. Having decided that, we were relieved of the perceived need to sanitize our vehicles. However, this required we pay strict attention to what we brought into our safe zones. For example, I needed to make some purchases at a convenience store the other day. I clipped my car key to a belt loop and put my credit card in my pocket before going in the store. I paid close attention to my hands and made sure I didn’t touch my face or clothing once I’d touched surfaces others had touched. Shopping completed, I returned to my car where I sanitized the credit card and the purchased items, sanitized my hands, unlocked my door, and then put the items in my car. Once the items and I were in the car, I didn’t have to think about them or my behavior any longer. When I returned to my rig, I was able to feel relaxed and that I was not contaminating my home or my friends.
Because we are all following exactly the same precautions, we can freely socialize, share meals, and be in close quarters with each other – and that is immensely helpful.
Hope this helps you as you think about what you’re going to do,
Recommended reading for those who may be at higher risk or are travelling with someone who is (over 60 or health problems): https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/06/health/coronavirus-older-people-social-distancing/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2kTaB3wU2iV3LYMwsI93rK_k0LqE5IjmfPcmyc4o0qE0vRfNbyxtYVBqk
People at Higher Risk: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html
How Virus Spreads – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html
Not Spreading the Virus – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html
Mental Health and Coping – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/coping.html