Physically, emotionally, and in other ways, the coronavirus outbreak and quarantine has been hard on everyone. Immunocompromised people are especially at risk, particularly in terms of physical illness. These individuals are much more likely to contract a disease that is one of the most contagious illnesses in human history. And, they are much more likely to become seriously ill from a virus that even in the strongest of people, can wreak havoc on the respiratory system. So, one can imagine what COVID-19 might do to an at-risk person.
In many ways, it might be harder for immunocompromised people to stay healthy during this time than it was to stay healthy earlier in the outbreak. According to most, the pandemic has now peaked in several spots in the United States. So, many people might be tempted to lower their guard. With more people getting out and taking more risks with their health, it’s more important than ever for immunocompromised people to adhere to basic safety precautions.
At Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, we truly care about your health and safety. That’s why we fight so hard to obtain the benefits our disabled clients deserve. That’s also why, as a local SSA law firm, it is our responsibility to give you the facts about staying safe. That’s a responsibility we take seriously, and so should you.
Who is At Risk?
Immunocompromised, immune deficient, and other synonyms are words we see frequently in news stories. But what do these words really mean? First, let’s look at what immunocompromised is not.
Over 97 percent of Americans are immunocompetent. Their bodies recognize pathogens like bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Then, their bodies fight these pathogens in one of two ways:
- T-Cells: T-lymphocytes, a subset of white blood cells, rally to fight infected cells. Normally, an environmental toxin, like cigarette smoke or a dangerous chemical, has caused these cells to mutate. T-cells bind to such cells and prevent, or at least slow, the spread of infection.
- B-Cells: B-lymphocytes, another type of white blood cells, secrete antibodies which guard against pathogens in foreign substances, mostly liquids. These cells fight coronavirus infections. If a doctor working with an SSI disability lawyer in Memphis concluded that your B-cell count was low, pay close attention to the precautions listed below.
A handful of people, mostly cancer patients, are immuno-incompetent. That’s the opposite of immunocompetent. These individuals have almost no immune system whatsoever. It’s probably best for these individuals to self-quarantine, even after stay-at-home or other social distancing orders expire.
Prolonged isolation is tough. If a friend or family member is immuno-incompetent, use social media, phone calls, video chats, and text messages to keep the lines of communication open. If these individuals have questions for an SSI lawyer near them, our office is open and serving our clients during the pandemic.
Everyone else is categorized as immunocompromised. Specifically, they typically have secondary immunodeficiencies. Their immune system deficiency is often a byproduct of:
- Chemotherapy or other cancer treatments,
- Multiple sclerosis, lupus, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, or another autoimmune disease,
- Certain medications, and
A few people have primary immunodeficiencies. These are usually genetic conditions.
Coronavirus Precautions for Yourself and Affected Family Members
For all immunocompromised people, hand washing, social distancing, and face-shielding are probably the three most important safety precautions to take. These are not optional guidelines. They are mandatory rules.
If your hands do not feel dry or chapped, you are probably not using enough hand sanitizer or washing them frequently enough. A drop of lotion or two should alleviate dryness. As for social distancing, it is advised to stay within your home place most of the time. If you have groceries or other goods delivered, make sure the provider offers touchless delivery or practice common sense disinfecting of highly touched areas.
It’s important to go outside for exercise and to maintain one’s sanity. Limit these walks to early morning when not many other people are around or just be sure to give yourself a good 6 foot distance between you and everyone else trying to get some fresh air.
Surgical masks do not provide 100 percent protection. The eyes are still exposed. However, they effectively seal the mouth and nose, the two most common entry points for coronavirus germs. If you don’t have a full face shield you can always add sun glasses for eye protection.
Of all the previously mentioned secondary immunodeficiency causes, medication is the most common one. Autoimmune diseases and cancer are statistically rare. And, age-related secondary immunodeficiency is usually serious but not critical.
Talk to your doctor about reducing immune-suppressing medications. A small change could make a big difference. Do not make any changes unless your doctor orders them.
If you go to the emergency room because of a fall or for any other reason, physicians are usually aware of what medicines affect the immune system. Nevertheless, be sure you or a loved one tells the doctor or nurse face-to-face of the medications you take. Better yet, always carry a list of all of your medications and the dosages in your wallet or billfold as well as the pharmacy and their phone number of where you have your prescriptions filled. The risk of a medication getting overlooked or forgotten is simply all too common in the midst of a health crisis trip to the emergency room.
COVID-19 Responses in Tennessee and the Mid South
The Volunteer State has been very aggressive in combating coronavirus. The Legislature has already approved roughly a half-dozen measures in this area. Some notable ones include:
- An additional $150 million emergency fund,
- Public education accommodations,
- Waiver of certain academic and other deadlines, and
- Grant money or local meals for schoolchildren who usually count on school-provided meals.
Here in Memphis and Shelby County, officials have already extended the stay-at-home order until April 21. That date might be extended even further. The Shelby County Health Department recently predicted that there will be “a surge in Shelby County from late May to early June.” Of course, that conclusion is subject to change.
In contrast, the state legislature in neighboring North Carolina has passed no coronavirus relief laws. In March, Governor Roy Cooper issued a stay-at-home order which expires on April 29, but he is under some pressure to lift this order. On the other side of the border, Arkansas is one of only seven states with no stay-at-home order. State lawmakers have adopted a pair of coronavirus-related laws, including one which created a $173 million emergency COVID-19 action fund.
For more information about getting through the coronavirus outbreak with a disability, or to learn about your right to financial benefits, call the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm. To begin your SSD claim or if you or someone you love has already taken steps and want the power of the professionals, contact us at (901) 244-0057 or fill in our contact form at Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm today.
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