I had a baby at the end of November. I’m not getting much sleep these days, for all the obvious reasons (two kids under three will do that to you), but the relentless stream of scary and confusing news about COVID-19, the new coronavirus, certainly hasn’t been helping. Scrolling through #COVID19, #SARSCoV2, #coronavirus Twitter helps me stay wide awake during 4 a.m. feedings—but it also keeps me awake, stewing in anxiety, sometimes for hours after. I’ve been feeling some mix of scared, confused, and freaked out over the past few weeks, and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way.
As the editor in chief of SELF magazine, it’s part of my job to stay on top of this stuff. But my news consumption habits have made me think a lot about how we’re covering the coronavirus at the brand, and how we can be most helpful right now, rather than contributing to the noise. Experts agree that in a rapidly evolving public health event like this one, accurate, contextualized information is a good thing, because the more we know and understand about what’s going on, the more we can prepare, both logistically and emotionally, in case things get worse.
This reasoning makes sense—feeling like you have some control over the situation can help mitigate anxiety, for starters. But on a deeper, more urgent level, when everyone does their part to help stop or slow the spread of this dangerous disease, it helps save lives and keeps our systems running as they should. In Scientific American, writer Zeynep Tufekci calls it our civic duty—and she’s right. Even if you personally aren’t at higher risk of serious or critical complications from COVID-19, there are millions and millions of people who are—like anyone with an underlying health condition, and people over 50. And that’s before we even address the limits of our health care system. Put it this way: There are only so many hospital beds and ventilators. We don’t want to get to a point where there are too many sick people at once and not enough resources available to care for them. So we need to all work together to slow the spread of the disease, which helps limit the number of people who are seriously ill at the same time (“flattening the curve” of the disease progression, as epidemiologists like to say).
This perspective—that practical, doable preparation can help lessen anxiety and also protect ourselves and our society at large—is ultimately what guides our reporting when it comes to covering the coronavirus at SELF. Our goal is to give you the science-based, expert-backed information you need to take good care of yourself, your loved ones, and your community. So our coronavirus stories cover a range of topics, like how to reduce your risk of contracting or spreading the virus (how to wash your hands properly, how to stay safe at the gym, and tips for how to stop touching your face, for example); how to stay calm and have a plan in case there’s sustained community transmission in your area (like what you need to know about getting tested, and which shelf-stable foods you should stock up on); and how to deal if you or a loved one does end up getting sick. And for those topics we aren’t equipped to address, or haven’t gotten to yet, we’ve published a great primer about how to find the most accurate news and information about the coronavirus, including suggestions for people and organizations to follow on social media. You can see all our coronavirus coverage in one place here. And we’ve got a lot more coming.