Mar 31, 2020 6:01 PM

Stay connected, stick to a routine: Tips on coping during the outbreak

Posted Mar 31, 2020 6:01 PM
 Hugo Phan / KMUW
Hugo Phan / KMUW

By NADYA FAULX 
Kansas News Service

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the current coronavirus outbreak, and the disruptions to daily life can take a toll on someone’s mental health.

Mental Health Association of South-Central Kansas spokesman Eric Littwiler says clinicians there are, understandably, seeing a lot of cases of anxiety and depression.

"I think people are feeling like the world they’re used to is just shifting underneath their feet," he says, "and that creates that anxiety and creates that depression even for people who haven’t dealt with it in the past."

He says the organization is still doing in-person appointments and recently introduced a video therapy option for people staying home.

Littwiler says one of the best things you can do when so much is changing is to try to maintain your routines as best you can.

"This is not the time to deprive yourself of whatever tools you might need to take care of yourself."

Here are some of his other tips for staying healthy:

Keep up the self-care

"Anything you possibly need from a self-care standpoint, you need to continue doing that," Littwiler says. That means keeping your regular counseling appointments; if you normally go to the gym, find ways to work out at home.

"If you can't go to work anymore, there's nothing you can do about that. What other things can you do?" Littwiler says. "Try to hold on to those pieces of your routine that you're able to."

Do things you enjoy

A silver lining of being homebound? More time to indulge in our hobbies.

Related: Virtual Happenings: The Next Best Thing Being There

"If you've been talking about some recipe you'e been wanting to try for weeks because you really enjoy cooking and never had the chance, maybe now is a good time," he says. "At least find something you enjoy doing and do it.

"Even if it's outside that routine, at least you're doing something you enjoy, something you've been wanting to do, and now you finally have the time."

Social distancing doesn't have to mean social isolation

Whether it's through social media, a text, a phone call, email, or Skype, it's vital to stay connected with friends and family.

"Hold on to the distancing part because it's there for a reason, but the isolation part we need to offset by staying connected to people who are within our support system," Littwiler says.

Even if you aren't feeling lonely, someone else might be — and they'll appreciate the check-in.

Seek help if you need it

Littwiler says an estimated quarter of Americans will need mental health care in a given year — but most won't, or won't know how to, seek it out.

Either "they're simply not aware of mental health resources that are available to them," he says, "or else the stigma is just such that they're too afraid to raise their hand and acknowledge they need help."

He urges anyone experiencing anxiety or depression to reach out to either the Mental Health Association of South-Central Kansas or another community organization:

  1. The Mental Health Association of South-Central Kansas counseling center: 316-652-2590
  2. Sedgwick County Comcare: 316-660-7600 (for general information) or 316-660-7540 (to make an appointment)
  3. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (call) or 741-741 (text)
Continue Reading Little Apple Post
Mar 31, 2020 6:01 PM
UPDATE: What Kansans need to know about the COVID-19 coronavirus
Health officials say one way to stop the spread of the new coronavirus is to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas News Service

The new coronavirus is spreading quickly around the world, including across Kansas, and setting off a range of responses.

The Kansas News Service is boiling down key developments in the state and updating the status regularly here. To read this information in Spanish, go here. This list was last updated at 2:10 p.m. March 31.

CASES AND DEATHS

430 cases, including two from out of state (see map for counties)

9 deaths (4 in Wyandotte County, 3 in Johnson County, 1 each in Sedgwick and Crawford counties)

NOTE: These figures only include cases confirmed with lab tests and do not represent the real, unknown total. Community transmission is occurring in parts of Kansas.

STATEWIDE ORDER TO STAY HOME

Gov. Laura Kelly is instituting a statewide stay-at-home order as of 12:01 a.m. March 30. It will last until at least April 19. Stay-at-home orders allow people to take care of essential activities (such as grocery shopping or going to work) as well as exercise outside, but otherwise keep to themselves. 

The state’s stay-at-home order supersedes at least 13 county-by-county orders. Should the state’s order lift before a county’s is through, the county can choose to keep its own in effect.

SHOULD I SELF-QUARANTINE?

For the whole state: The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is now mandating home quarantine for 14 days if you've traveled to the places listed below. If you come down with symptoms (such as a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, coughing or shortness of breath) during those 14 days, contact your health care provider and explain your potential COVID-19 exposure.  

  1. Louisiana or anywhere in Colorado on or after March 27.
  2. States with known widespread community transmission (California, Florida, New York and Washington) on or after March 15.
  3. Illinois or New Jersey on or after March 23.
  4. Eagle, Summit, Pitkin and Gunnison counties in Colorado (if your visit was March 8th or later).
  5. Cruise ships or river cruises on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their cruise ship travel should also finish out their quarantine.
  6. International destinations on or after March 15. Anyone previously told to quarantine because of their international travel should also finish out their quarantine.

TESTING AVAILABILITY

As of March 27, Kansas health secretary Lee Norman said the state lab was handling 175 samples a day. But Kansas will receive more equipment within about a week that will let it handle 700 to 1,000 samples daily, though shortages of specialized supplies such as nose swabs may still hamper work at times. 

Norman said there’s enough capacity in the state, now that testing has ramped up through commercial labs and hospitals. State testing is reserved for high-risk groups, such as sick nursing home residents and health care workers. Others can ask their doctor or nurse practitioner to order through private labs.

What Kansas still lacks is enough testing material to study COVID-19 rates among people without symptoms.

KANSAS HAS DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

It gives the state government more power to marshal resources and triggers the state's response plan. The state Legislature has extended Kelly's declaration through May (and can extend it), with the aim of giving her the ability to make certain decisions when lawmakers aren’t in session.

On March 22, Kelly eased state rules to expand the use of telemedicine, to temporarily license more health workers and to allow heavier trucks on Kansas highways hauling relief supplies. On March 23, she ordered a ban on evictions if a tenant was unable to pay because of the coronavirus crisis. And she extended the income tax filing deadline to July 15, in line with a delay for filing federal tax forms.

HOW ARE UNIVERSITIES RESPONDING?

K-State, University of Kansas and Wichita State: All of them will go fully online for the end of the school year. Students at K-State and KU will need special exemptions to remain in dorms.

Other colleges: Washburn and Fort Hays State are online. Newman University expanded spring break for two weeks (March 14 to March 29). Johnson County Community College will close campus from March 14-29, and all courses will restart online March 30. Pittsburg State started break a day early and will resume classes indefinitely online on March 30.

HOW ABOUT K-12 SCHOOLS?

Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson have shut down all K-12 schools, public, private and parochial, for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. They had initially issued a strong recommendation that schools close March 16 through 20. 

Some county health departments had already issued similar orders. 

A Kansas State Department of Education task force has issued guidance to school districts on how to continue some amount of student learning. 

WHAT’S BEEN CANCELED OR SUSPENDED?

The governor’s executive order temporarily banning landlords from evicting businesses or residential tenants is effective until May 1. That same order put in a moratorium on any mortgage foreclosures through the same period.

The governor mandated on March 23, through an executive order, that gatherings be restricted to less than 10 people.

Kansas state workers: Access to the Statehouse is limited to official business only, and lawmakers went on break early. Kelly wanted most state employees to stay home for at least two weeks starting March 23.

State prisons: The Kansas Department of Corrections ended visitation at all state facilities, and will “re-evaluate on an ongoing basis.” It urges families to talk to inmates through email, phone calls and video visits. 

Electric companies: Evergy, which serves 950,000 customers in Kansas, will not disconnect residential or business services for an unspecified amount of time due to the “unprecedented challenge” of coronavirus that “may result in customers facing unexpected or unusual financial strain.”

Casinos: All four state-owned gaming facilities will close at the end of business on March 17, and remain so until at least March 30.

Public events: Many events and public places around the state have been canceled until at least the end of March. 

Sports: The Kansas State High School Athletics Association canceled the state basketball tournament midway through it. And the Big 12 suspended spring sports until March 29.  

HOW BAD IS THE VIRUS? 

COVID-19 usually causes mild to moderate symptoms, like a fever or cough. Most people with mild symptoms recover in two weeks. More severe cases, found in older adults and people with health issues, can have up to six weeks’ recovery time or can lead to death.

HOW CAN YOU AVOID IT?

  1. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Frequently.
  2. Cover your coughs.
  3. If you’re an older Kansan or medically fragile, put off any vacations and limit your trips to the grocery store or any public space.
  4. Stay home if you are sick — this goes for all ages.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON COVID-19

Kansas Department of Health and Environment: http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.