An opportunity to support each other

UPDATE: we are now in self quarantine indefinitely.

ORIGINAL POST: I’m writing this post for my students and families who attend weekly lessons in my home studio but perhaps it will be useful to others who wish to adopt some supportive and non reactionary public health practices.

There are now some confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Johnson County and there will be more as testing becomes more widely available. I’m basing my recommendations on the advice of Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, professor of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at The University of Toronto.

You can read the entirety of his recommendations at the bottom of the post but the most salient in terms of how we as adults model our behavior right now is this paragraph: “…mostly, I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, openmindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.”

Let’s embrace this opportunity to commit to some supportive health practices while showing the children in our lives that we can be responsible without being reactionary.

Many of my students already do this consistently but I’m going to encourage everyone to arrive a few minutes early to wash their hands before their lesson.

I’m going to step up my practice of properly cleaning the piano to a schedule of doing it daily before lessons. If you’d like to clean your piano at home, here’s the approach I recommend:

  • Dilute mild soap with filtered water to create a cleaning solution. I use Dr. Bronner’s.
  • Use a clean cloth and only dampen it. Don’t soak. You don’t want to get moisture in between the keys.
  • Use a separate cloth for cleaning the black keys vs. the white keys. I do them first and my logic is that some of their gunk will get on the white keys. I don’t know that this is actually logical or just Tara logic.
  • Wipe the keys in a downward motion towards you to avoid getting any moisture where it shouldn’t go.
  • Wipe one key at a time and dry it before moving on to the next key.
  • After cleaning, “disinfect” keys with a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 3 parts filtered water. Follow the cleaning method to “disinfect” each key. Scare quotes because vinegar isn’t as effective as other harsher cleaners but you can’t use those without damaging your instrument so we do the best we can.

Finally, stay home if you’re sick. It’s never worth the risk to others in our community and the best thing you can do is rest and allow your body to heal. If you’re sick and you do come to lessons anyway, I will ask you to go home.

That’s it! 1) wash your hands when you arrive 2) clean your pianos and I’ll clean mine and 3) stay home if you’re sick or be sent home.

I do recommend reading all of Dr. Sharkawy’s thoughts because he has a measured and respectful approach to helping keep us all safe. Here’s his post:

“I’m a doctor and an Infectious Diseases Specialist. I’ve been at this for more than 20 years seeing sick patients on a daily basis. I have worked in inner city hospitals and in the poorest slums of Africa. HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis,TB, SARS, Measles, Shingles, Whooping cough, Diphtheria…there is little I haven’t been exposed to in my profession. And with notable exception of SARS, very little has left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed or downright scared.

I am not scared of Covid-19. I am concerned about the implications of a novel infectious agent that has spread the world over and continues to find new footholds in different soil. I am rightly concerned for the welfare of those who are elderly, in frail health or disenfranchised who stand to suffer mostly, and disproportionately, at the hands of this new scourge. But I am not scared of Covid-19.

What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world. I am scared of the N95 masks that are stolen from hospitals and urgent care clinics where they are actually needed for front line healthcare providers and instead are being donned in airports, malls, and coffee lounges, perpetuating even more fear and suspicion of others. I am scared that our hospitals will be overwhelmed with anyone who thinks they ” probably don’t have it but may as well get checked out no matter what because you just never know…” and those with heart failure, emphysema, pneumonia and strokes will pay the price for overfilled ER waiting rooms with only so many doctors and nurses to assess.

I am scared that travel restrictions will become so far reaching that weddings will be canceled, graduations missed and family reunions will not materialize. And well, even that big party called the Olympic Games…that could be kyboshed too. Can you even

I’m scared those same epidemic fears will limit trade, harm partnerships in multiple sectors, business and otherwise and ultimately culminate in a global recession.

But mostly, I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, openmindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.

Covid-19 is nowhere near over. It will be coming to a city, a hospital, a friend, even a family member near you at some point. Expect it. Stop waiting to be surprised further. The fact is the virus itself will not likely do much harm when it arrives. But our own behaviors and “fight for yourself above all else” attitude could prove disastrous.

I implore you all. Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education. We have an opportunity to learn a great deal about health hygiene and limiting the spread of innumerable transmissible diseases in our society. Let’s meet this challenge together in the best spirit of compassion for others, patience, and above all, an unfailing effort to seek truth, facts and knowledge as opposed to conjecture, speculation and catastrophizing.

Facts not fear. Clean hands. Open hearts.
Our children will thank us for it.”

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