COVID is not over – We still need to protect ourselves

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By Assunta Ng
NORTH-WEST ASIA WEEKLY

When Covid-19 swept through Washington State in 2020, I anxiously asked myself, “Am I going to get this?” After 26 months, the question remains. But the difference is that I am no longer anxious or scared… even if someone in my orbit has caught Covid.

Is it because of vaccines and drugs that cure Covid? Is it because of low death rates, as well as hospitalization rates? Does it have to do with those who caught Covid, only having mild symptoms? All the foregoing. However, the most important lesson I have learned over the past two years has come from Americans who did not prioritize their health and therefore died of Covid.

It’s hard for me to understand why so many people are anti-vaccine. Without health and vitality, you can do nothing. Without health, you can’t achieve your dreams, you can’t make wise decisions, you can’t take care of yourself or your loved ones.

Before Covid, I only understood the importance of my health in theory. I haven’t done everything to support a healthy body. My mind was so stressed and my body so drained and exhausted even after taking a trip to South America to recharge. It didn’t help much.

The goal I had set myself during the Covid was to regain my health. What does a healthy mind and body involve? Exercise, sleep, rest, hydration and proper nutrition. Accomplished in all five areas, I feel a monumental difference in my mind and body in 2020 and now. It’s like I have a totally different body and mindset. I feel healthy now, physically and mentally.

Covid doesn’t scare me anymore. We all need to assess what we should be doing to improve our overall health and I did. Covid will last for a while. People around me were infected with Covid, including two employees, my friends and relatives, but their symptoms were mild and they have since recovered. Take a look at the Covid-19 rates. That’s still high, even though hospitalizations are down from last year. No matter what age group you are in, the virus does not discriminate. They attack and infect you anytime and anywhere. Worse still, most people got infected and had few clues as to how and where they contracted it. Symptoms don’t appear immediately, which means they could infect other people before symptoms appear.

The restaurants are crowded. No one checks the evidence of vaccination cards or negative tests anymore. Airlines and airports are often crowded. People don’t wear their masks. The public environment is more dangerous than in 2021. But temptations continue to overwhelm us, telling us to go out in crowded areas, eat in crowded places, and do things we know will pose risks to our lives. make up for what we lost in 2020 and 2021. What shall we do now?

Here is what I do to keep myself safe and protect my health:

Vitamin C or salt water

Always have vitamin C at home. A constant ally, it boosts your immunity. Sometimes I take it with me when I go out. Not taking risks is a valuable practice. There were times when I would come home with a heavy head and not feel well. After taking vitamin C, I stayed home until the next day. Make sure you sleep well that night. Sleep well. A good night’s sleep is the body’s best defense.

If you don’t have vitamin C, rinse your mouth out with salt water. Covid tends to stick around your throat and nose as you breathe in the air. Salt water kills germs and to some extent the virus. Don’t wait for the next day. After rinsing with salt, rinse your mouth with cool water so you don’t get cavities.

Some of my relatives are more paranoid. They instantly wash the clothes they wear after they go out every time. Then they take a shower to make sure the potential virus is flushed out.

Avoid the crowds

In the past two years, I’ve only taken one trip, despite my love for travel. If a restaurant is full, I shorten my visit or choose another restaurant.

Masked, Lisa An performs with other violinists for the Korean Music Association
concert at Benaroya Hall on June 12 (Photo by Assunta Ng)

I prefer places like the Seattle Symphony Orchestra to Benaroya Hall, which always checks for vaccine cards or negative tests, and requires masks.

Father’s Day was a popular day for restaurants. We arranged with our son to celebrate Father’s Day at a restaurant the following week instead of the same day, to avoid the crowds.

Watch your diet

During the first part of Covid, people with pre-existing conditions such as obesity and diabetes were very at risk, and still are. Why not use Covid as an incentive to reset your health! I did it. In fact, it was the best gift Covid could have given me. Living longer shouldn’t be the goal; live longer with a full life, no pain or disease should.
If you need to lose weight, do it now. Exercise and eat less, especially carbohydrates and sugar. Better yet, cut out the sugar completely. It’s hard the first few days, but it will get easier with time. You can even train your taste buds to taste less sweet foods. If you need a substitute for sweets, grab a bowl of your favorite soup instead. The soup is hearty and satisfying. This will decrease your craving. Start now, it’s not too late.

Top left: boiled purple yam, sautéed onions with garlic ginger shrimp; vegetables with bone broth, garlic and ginger; and three kinds of sautéed mushrooms with garlic and ginger (Photo by Assunta Ng)

Eat healthy. Try a plant-based diet and eat less meat. Eat more seafood instead. I recently made boiled purple yam; sautéed onions with shrimps with garlic and ginger; boil two kinds of vegetables with bone broth, garlic and ginger; and three kinds of sautéed mushrooms with garlic and ginger. It’s our dinner.

Preparation of ginger and garlic (Photo by Assunta Ng)

Whatever I cook, ginger and garlic are necessary ingredients to boost my body’s immunity. These are my daily essential ingredients because they have anti-inflammatory properties.

To slow down

Unlike 2020 when everything on my calendar was canceled, now it’s filling up fast with lots of events including restaurants. Now that most businesses have reopened and events are in full swing, we are tempted to take advantage and participate in everything. Pick and choose, don’t overdo it or be greedy. No need to do it all at once. I try to limit myself to two events a week. At most, three. The reasonable thing to do is to postpone. Think of it this way, we have been waiting for more than two years to play or have fun enjoying the activities we want. What an extra week of waiting!

Mask up

In many events, I’m the rare creature with a mask. I don’t care what people think. I don’t care if they say I’m weird. It’s not that I’m afraid of getting sick, it’s the consequence of affecting the publications of the Northwest Asian Weekly and the Seattle Chinese Post. I also don’t want to burden anyone in my family.

I’ve seen people make a small mistake and they can get seriously ill. Wearing a mask is therefore worth it.

New habits

Whenever I meet strangers now, they often reach out to me. What happened to the elbow bump during the pandemic? People forgot so early that handshakes and touching are a way to transmit the virus.

We also forgot to wash our hands before eating. Whenever you go to a restaurant, remember to do so before your meal. When you get home, the first thing to do is wash your hands.

I appreciate that many restaurants and events have revamped a new way of eating.

Frank Irigon accepts the UW Charles Odegaard Award in May 2022 (Photo by Assunta Ng)

The University of Washington’s in-person celebration dinner, honoring Frank Irigon, had their 8-course meal pre-set on their table, with the exception of desserts, for guests to serve themselves. This eliminates the number of times the server had to come to our table.

In-person celebration dinner at the University of Washington (Photo by Assunta Ng)

The server who goes from table to table risks transmitting all types of germs. Nisei Vets Hall’s Chow Mein Fundraising Dinner has become a car service to protect the Hall, volunteers and guests. Fighting the Covid is a long fight. We can’t control Covid, but we can exercise the art of patience. As George Savile, an English politician, said, “A man who is a master of patience is a master of everything else.”

Assunta can be contacted at assunta@nwasianweekly.com.

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