Bleats

I’m In COVID-19 Isolation In NYC And I’m Terrified For Australia’s Future

"I feel like I'm living in Australia's future right now."

For a week-and-a-half, I’ve been self-quarantining in my New York apartment because of a coronavirus and the global pandemic. That, folks, is not a sentence I ever imagined I’d type out. And yet, here we are.

Twelve days doesn’t sound like a long time. Especially when you consider how quickly the COVID-19 crisis has escalated. But this has easily been one of the most emotionally exhausting periods of my life. Twelve days felt like a month.

Listen to ScoMo’s latest coronavirus restrictions for Australia below:

The way I’ve been explaining my headspace to family and friends in Sydney is that I feel like I’m living in Australia’s future right now. I sincerely hope that is not the case, (at the time of writing New York state – not city – sits at 20,875 cases of the virus) but I feel as though it’s something of a duty of mine to share some insight into what it’s like for those of us living in more heavily hit areas.

My experience of daily life shifted on Thursday, March 12th. It was the day after Coronavirus became a global pandemic, and the severity of the situation in New York City – which is home to over 8.6 million people – became clear. 

That evening, two of my roommates and I went to a supermarket and stocked up on about two weeks’ worth of food. Well, we attempted to. The shelves were pretty sparse. No, there wasn’t any toilet paper. 

The queue to check out snaked out past the registers, almost reaching the entrance of the giant store. Seeing the line of people waiting with their trolleys stacked caused anxiety to fill my chest. 

Despite the tense circumstances, though, people were surprisingly friendly. New Yorkers! We joked with a couple of hipster-looking dudes about landing the last roll of TP. That’s never happened before. 

I went to the gym on Friday night. I wiped down the treadmill before starting my run, but couldn’t shake the feeling that I shouldn’t be there. I was one of about four people in the space. I ran for 15 minutes but became so consumed by anxiety that I had to leave. I wiped down the treadmill one more time and paused my membership.

That night, my roommates and I got very drunk on home-made Aperol Spritzes. We watched Love Is Blind and joked about seeing one and another at ‘work’ (read: our dining table which now sits in the living room) after the weekend.

By Monday, almost everyone I know in the city was working from home. Most were self-isolating. The Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, announced that food vendors would only be able to offer takeaway services and all nightclubs, movie theatres, small theatre houses, gyms and concert venues would have to close. (Not unlike Australia right now.)

Friends’ salaries were cut. The amount of work I was landing as a freelancer fell through the floor. I realised my sister would no longer be visiting me in May. People started asking if I was going to break my lease and fly home. 

I spoke to my Nonna Franca on the phone on Tuesday. She learnt how to use Whatsapp this year – at 81. Nonna lives alone and is strictly self-quarantining.

“I don’t even go out to hang the laundry,” she told me. “I hang it in the garage now.” She told me this situation reminds her of war. 

Nonna’s tone was positive, but I couldn’t help but picture her in that big house unable to have visitors drop by. I spent a good chunk of our call trying to pretend I wasn’t crying. 

The reality of this enormous mess hit me early on in week one. Wednesday onwards was honestly about putting one foot in front of the other. 

I started working out daily, just to get out of my head. None of my other mindfulness practices were working. I stocked up on veggies and more wine (necessary). I also started looking for ways to feel connected. I asked friends on Instagram to distract me with silly stories, and I got a wave of responses. I got stories about period stains on white skirts; about drunkenly vomiting on exes; about almost ruining surprise birthday parties. Stories about regular life…

Ask and you shall receive yarns.

By Thursday, borders were closing in Australia and the US State Department issued a level four travel advisory, asking all Americans abroad to travel home. I knew my window to go back to Sydney was closing, but decided to stay put: I didn’t want to chance getting sick and infecting others – least of all my family.

On Friday night the bar across the street opened a window to serve takeaway cocktails. My roommates and I stood in line with maybe four other people. Groups spaced themselves out by about two metres. The bartender told jokes through a mask.

My weekend closed with the news that as of Sunday, March 22nd, New Yorkers were being asked to “remain indoors to the greatest extent”. It was unnerving, and I felt scared.

Not knowing how bad this will get or how long we’ll be here is a kind of torment none of us knows how to manage. But if there’s one thing I’m leaving this first 12 days sure of, it’s that despite all the videos of people fighting over toilet paper or lining up for guns, most folks are reaching out their (gloved) hands out to one another. 

And that has been a particularly bright light in an otherwise overwhelmingly dark time.

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Purell Slapped With Lawsuits On ‘Misleading Claims’ About Hand Sanitiser

"These claims lack a scientific basis”

With the immense, and necessary, focus being placed on hygiene right now it’s only natural that folks would begin stocking up on hand-sanitiser.

In fact, jerks like this guy have gone so far as to buy bottles of the stuff in bulk and attempt to make a profit off people’s desire to avoid contamination.

…But that’s a story for another time.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, people have been keeping bottles of hand-sanitiser close by; comforted by the knowledge that if they are unable to wash their hands, they have some kind of protection from germs…. And the transmission of the virus.

Purell, a brand of sanitiser created by GOJO, promotes its ability to fight against “99.9 per cent of illness-causing germs”. Sounds pretty nifty right?

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Well, as NBC News reports, it appears those claims are coming under fire.

The company is currently facing two class-action lawsuits in the States, being accused of “misleading claims”.

The lawsuits have both been filed in Ohio, and allege that GOJO’s messaging suggests it is based on “sound scientific support when none exists”.

According to NBC, the lawsuit continues to state, “These claims lack a scientific basis, rendering the affirmative misrepresentations misleading”.

The most recent suit was filed on March 13th, 2020.

However, this is not the first time GOJO has been questioned on its messaging. Back in January this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called the company out about its claims on Purell.

The FDA’s letter to GOJO referenced advertising campaigns implying that the hand sanitiser was effective against the transmission of viruses.

“However, FDA is currently not aware of any adequate and well-controlled studies demonstrating that killing or decreasing the number of bacteria or viruses on the skin by a certain magnitude produces a corresponding clinical reduction in infection or disease caused by such bacteria or virus,” the body wrote.

In response to the letter from the FDA, GOJO released a statement sharing the business “took immediate action to respond to FDA claim requirements after receiving a warning letter from the agency on January 17”.

“It is important to emphasize that the FDA letter was not related to the safety or quality of our products, or our manufacturing processes. Our products can and should continue to be used as part of good hand hygiene practice, to reduce germs.”

Full statement here.

It doesn’t appear the company has issued a statement on the recent lawsuits, however.

These lawsuits come at a time where the effectiveness of hand sanitiser has been hotly debated.

While the situation with Purell does not mean hand sanitisers are necessarily ineffective, it does appear that almost universally, medical professionals do prefer we use soap and water.

In a recent interview with Allure, Athanasios Melisiotis, a physician with Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, shared:

“Hand sanitizers are great in a pinch and are more convenient, but soap and water ultimately are better.

“Hand sanitizer may kill viruses and certain bacteria, but it does not ‘clean’ your hands like soap and water do,” Melisiotis continued.

“Sanitizer doesn’t remove actual dirt and debris. Soap kills germs, binds them, and helps physically remove them, with the water, off your skin and down the drain.”

So, to be safe let’s all just promise to lather up our hands as often as possible, yeah?

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

NYC's Government Has Released A Sex Guide With Approved Covid-19 Hook-Ups

"You are your safest sex partner"

In news that’s about as awkward as your eighth grade SexEd experience, but a hell of a lot more entertaining, New York City Health has officially released a guide to sexy times in the age of COVID-19.

While that might be surprising to hear at first, just consider for a moment that people needed to be taught how to wash their hands not so long ago… so, it’s probably not the worst idea.

New York state has been significantly impacted by the spread of Coronavirus, with 15,777 confirmed cases (at the time of writing). That is almost half of all the cases in the United States.

So, it makes sense that the New York City government would be attempting to use every avenue to squash this thing. Including tips on doing the nasty.

And while Australia isn’t at the same level of severity, it can’t hurt to practice safer sex right now. So, we went through and pulled out all the most essential points for ya.

In the update that was circulated over the weekend, NYC Health stressed that “all New Yorkers should stay home and minimize contact with others to reduce the spread of COVID-19″.

But that there are ways to get it on safely if you wish to.

In a nutshell, it stated that it is not yet known if Coronavirus can be transmitted sexually. For that reason, the NYC health department recommends that you get down and dirty with ~yourself~ for the moment being.

“You are your safest sex partner,” the guide reads.

“Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex.”

Well, that’s way to pass the time while in isolation…

If you do want to have sex with other people, though, it’s recommended that you go with the people you live with.

An excuse to get to know your roommate better, perhaps?

“The next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact — including sex — with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading COVID-19.”

The government stressed that hooking up with anyone outside of these groups is risky right now. So, it might be worth looking into digital options if your S.O (or whoever) isn’t in the same house as you right now.

It might not be ideal, but neither is getting a virus or passing it on to someone else.

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In the name of safety, the department drilled down further. They specified that it’s extra important that folks wash before and after ‘special time’, and pointed out that practising safe sex – with condoms and dental dams – is a good way to avoid contact with bodily fluids. (COVID-19 has been found in saliva and faeces).

And in case people weren’t yet aware, they stressed that folks should not be having sex if they feel unwell.

Naturally, the Internet is having a great time with this official update.

In a nutshell: you can hook up with people you live with but avoid doing so if anyone is at risk health-wise. Try not to exchange bodily fluids. And make sure you’re super clean. …Or just have sex with yourself.

Have fun, friends!

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

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