Ask Amy: An elevator sneeze brings on panic
Dear Amy: I have a question about catching COVID from riding in an elevator. Yesterday I was on an elevator in a residential building.
I was wearing my mask and a scarf around my neck.
A young lady got on the elevator with no mask on. She started sneezing.
I quickly got panicky, and the elevator door opened.
I promptly left the building. I wasn't a tenant there.
Is there any chance I can catch the virus that way?
Please let me know. Thank you.
Dear Panicked: You can learn more about COVID and keep up on current research through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov).
Several studies performed and published in the earlier days of the pandemic focused on the risk of contracting the virus while riding in an elevator. Standing close together in an enclosed space definitely creates a risk for virus transmission, and a sneeze forcefully sends droplets into the air, but ventilation systems used in many elevators tend to force those droplets downward toward the floor.
Facing away from other elevator riders can reduce this risk further.
So yes, if the person who sneezed had COVID – or a cold – you could become infected. Your mask provided protection (the CDC describes mask-wearing as a “critical public health tool”).
Because you are extremely concerned, you should minimize the risks as you perceive them, while understanding that living in the world is something of a risky prospect for all of us.
Keeping up with your vaccinations, wearing a high-quality well-fitting mask, and washing your hands often are all proactive ways for you to minimize the risk of transmission.
You should ask your physician to assess the specific medical risks to you if you do get the COVID virus.
The new variants of the COVID-19 virus are reported to be very communicable, but weakened in strength – meaning that people are more likely to contract the virus, but much less likely to land in the hospital – or even the doctor’s office – as a result of the illness caused by the virus.
In my opinion, your extreme anxiety and panic response actually poses a significant and immediate health risk to you. Left untreated, your anxiety might have a far greater impact on your quality of life than a bout of COVID.
Dear Amy: My husband and I are in our mid-80s, in generally good health and are blessed to have our three children and their families nearby. We see them all often.
One of our sons has always been very careful about his diet and follows all the latest research on the most healthful way to eat.
Now, every time he visits we get dreary lectures on what we should and shouldn’t eat, what to throw out of our larder, what research to study, and what daily routines to incorporate into our life.
He won’t let it go. We try to lightheartedly dissuade this unwelcome “advice,” but it falls on deaf ears.
Incidentally, by most standards we eat a very healthy diet - very little meat, lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts. We do include a bit of sugar. No caffeine or alcohol. And we exercise regularly.
We are happy to live like this for the rest of our days.
How can we convince our son to accept that we are going to eventually die, and we’d rather enjoy our time with him free of endless tussles about what we choose to eat.
– Loving Mother
Dear Loving Mother: You might not be able to convince your son to accept your eventual death. That’s a tall order for someone who seems to be trying his hardest to prevent it.
You don’t mention whether he evangelizes with everyone. If so – yes, how dreary.
Elders often say that one privilege they enjoy is the ability to be blunt, without worrying too much about the reaction.
Try that. For example, “Son. We’re going to stop you right there. We appreciate how much you love us, but we will not be changing our diets. Why? Because we don’t want to.”
Dear Amy: The question from “At Wits End Wife” sent shivers up my spine. Her husband’s violence was escalating, and he was killing small animals.
I married a man like that and his behavior did accelerate. He tortured and killed my cat. He tortured and abused me in less than one year of marriage.
I left unannounced to anyone and had to hide from him. I’m so thankful I was able to save my life.
– Safe Now
Dear Safe: This is horrific. I hope she does leave. Now.
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