March Madness! The Coronavirus is Here.

March Madness is here…and I’m not just talking about basketball. I feel like I’m living in the twilight zone. I suppose lots of us do. The TV shows me arenas filled with college basketball fans celebrating their teams ahead of the NCAA tournament. Then it tells me maybe I should practice social distancing to avoid COVID-19. Forget thriving. It’s hard to figure out how to live reasonably at this moment.

Right now, things are normal in my city. I realize that if/when that changes, it could change rapidly. With a medically fragile granddaughter, my family must carefully consider how we will measure the risks of exposure to this new virus.

Within my social circle, there is a self-isolator who returned from Asia a few weeks ago and a current traveler to Florida. One of my sons is flying from LAX to Hawaii next week. And I spend several hours each month in meetings at the local teaching hospital. Does any of this put us at extra risk?

The way things are going, the government may step in to tell us to stay home before we have a chance to decide for ourselves. I have the distinct impression that’s where we’re headed. I think we’re past the point of preventing the spread of coronavirus. The next step in controlling a pandemic is mitigation or nonpharmaceutical interventions to slow the spread. This is important to achieve so that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed.

Yes, even the US healthcare system has limits. During this time of rapid spread with no treatment available, it’s important to remember that our behavior affects other people. Some personal inconvenience may be necessary to protect our elderly, medically fragile, and other vulnerable populations.

Social distancing is a mitigation measure. Voluntary home isolation is another mitigation measure. Long-standing recommendations from the CDC include the following personal nonpharmaceutical interventions:

NPIs that can be implemented by individual persons include the following personal protective measures for everyday use:

Voluntary home isolation or self-isolation
This means staying home while you’re ill or when you have been exposed. With the familiar flu, the CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after a fever or signs of a fever (chills, sweating, and feeling warm or flushed) are gone except to obtain medical care. To ensure that the fever is gone, patients’ temperature should be measured in the absence of medication that lowers fever (e.g., acetaminophen or ibuprofen).

With this new virus, self-isolation may mean staying home longer – until all symptoms are gone or for two weeks after suspected exposure.

Respiratory etiquette
Cover coughs and sneezes, preferably with a tissue, and then dispose of tissues and disinfect hands immediately after a cough or sneeze, or (if a tissue is not available) cough or sneeze into a shirt sleeve. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to help slow the spread of germs.

Hand hygiene
Regularly and thoroughly wash hands with soap and water (or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% ethanol or isopropanol when soap and water are not available).

Hand hygiene is a good practice all of the time, not just during flu season or during an emergent pandemic.

While I haven’t curtailed any of my normal activities, I am carefully considering travel and I’ve added more staples to my pantry. If I’m suddenly faced with the necessity of staying home for a couple of weeks, I want to be able to do so with no last minute scrambling for supplies.

I have an ample supply of my favorite gluten-free baking supplies: sweet white sorghum, tapioca, arrowroot, potato, oat, almond, sweet potato, and brown rice flours; honey and maple syrup; cocoa; butter; eggs; vanilla; baking powder and baking soda; and herbs and spices.

I’ve added extra rice, beans, tuna, gluten-free pasta, Pomi tomatoes, chicken stock, raisins, mandarin oranges, avocado and hummus minis, peanut butter, cereal, crackers, yogurt, frozen vegetables and meat to my regular stock of food. I also purchased some self-safe milk and formula for the grandkids. In addition, I’ve stocked up on toilet paper and laundry sanitizer.

I didn’t go crazy. I don’t have a lot of extra storage. I didn’t spend a fortune, but I also didn’t worry about a larger weekly grocery bill because I’ll use the supplies at some point.

It does feel like March Madness. The next few weeks, perhaps months, will bring a puzzle of decision making. I’ll stay armed with ample supplies and as much solid medical information as I can gather. I’ll look at any personal inconvenience as an opportunity for something different. And eventually I’ll learn to thrive within whatever restrictions may be required.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

It’s March. It’s Madness. It’s Teamwork at its Best!

TWC Arena
It’s March. It’s Madness. A friend and I recently went to visit my sister, eat with Chef Matt McClure, and watch some college basketball. At one point, my friend spent a long, quizzical moment staring at my sister, my brother-in-law and me. I guess I understand why. We were standing in the middle of a world class art museum surrounded by walls full of art, and we were talking basketball. Yep, that’s how we roll – especially in March. We just can’t help it.
Of course we’re not alone. Your house may have been taken over by the madness of brackets, hoops, balls, and the cheers of the Big Dance. It happens. Amidst all the craziness, there’s sometimes a bit of Magic and always lots of lessons worth remembering.
magic johnson
March Madness is a series of battles on the court. The teams that win are always the ones that:
• Are strong and fit from their regular training program
• Remain aware of the position of all the players on the court
• Pay attention to the advice of the coach
• Stay aware of the time on the clock
• Play with heart
• Assist each other
• Rebound
• Tune out the circumstances and play their game
• Pass to the open man
• Foul only when necessary
• Never stop playing hard until the final buzzer
• Play as a team
• Believe they can win

coach k
Did you happen to notice that everything on this list also contributes to winning in life?

It is clear by the clapping and yelling I saw yesterday that an NCAA basketball crowd recognizes moments of great teamwork. I’m grateful that we have this sort of competition to remind us that teamwork can lead us to greater success than we can possibly achieve on our own.

I hope we will carry that awareness with us into our homes and places of work after the championship game. Perhaps it will help us as spouses, parents, and work team members to remain aware that:
• Each player brings value to the team
• All roles are essential to reach the desired outcome
• Each player needs to play hard when they’re on the court
• Each player needs to rest and regroup off the court
• When a player has an off day, the rest of the team can take up the slack
• The decisions we make affect the whole team
• Leadership brings strategy that moves the team past its obstacles
• It is good to acknowledge a great play
• All players need encouragement
• Not every player can be expected to go on to the next level
• Teams of character play by the rules

My team has already lost this year, but that hasn’t kept me from cheering on other teams. I know that we’ll have another opportunity. And that’s another great thing to remember. Some days we lose the battle, but there’s always another opportunity!

Keep playing hard and with heart until the final buzzer! That’s what I call thriving.