COVID-19 — Afraid to go out?

In Arkansas beauty shops and barber shops open. Turtle Cover Spa opens. Restaurants open with limited inside seating. Tourists arrive. This is supposed to be good news, right? I mean our economy is a tourist economy so we need those tourists, don’t we? Heaven knows we need our hair cut.

Problem is, it just doesn’t look right, what with masks and all. And worse still, those who have “underlying health conditions” are fearful that if they “catch” COVID-19 they will end up in ICU and then die. So they stay isolated at home waiting until there is a “cure.”

Fear is sometimes understandable

Actually that fear is understandable because most of the people with COVID-19 who did end up in ICU and sometimes died were people with just such underlying conditions. However, I should point out that this also applies to the “flu” as we know it. Tens of thousands of people die from the flu each year and yet no one I know remains isolated out of fear of the flu. So what’s the difference?

All viruses are different. Each spread differently, sometimes affecting children a lot and sometimes not. Each virus attacks and replicates itself in different areas of the body. We sometimes forget that polio, measles, ebola, small pox, chicken pox, HIV (the list is long) are also viruses. All of these can be deadly for some people.

Recovery from viruses

Recovery from all viruses (and bacterial infections) depends on the your body’s immune system. Vaccines are designed to give your immune system time to recognize/attack the virus and develop protective antibodies should that be necessary.

Vaccines are not a one time game. Viruses mutate (change) which means the vaccines also have to change.

Don’t believe for even a minute we can avoid viruses because new ones show up all the time. COVID-19 is a new one. And I hope no one wants to remain a hermit for the rest of their natural life as a protective measure – because that isn’t living.

We don’t yet have a vaccine for COVID-19 but it appears very likely that there will be one. In the meantime, given that another virus (or another wave of this one) is likely to rear its ugly head sooner or later, what makes perfect sense is having an immune system capable to responding to the infection.

Immune suppression

That brings us to those underlying health conditions that reflect enormous burden on the immune system. Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart conditions, lung disease, autoimmune diseases and medications intended to treat these and many other conditions all suppress the immune system in some fashion or another.

It is true that the immune system weaken with age. But people are not in nursing homes just because they are old. Residents of nursing homes have underlying health conditions. Some of their conditions and yours can be genetic or otherwise unavoidable. But often as not they are the result of poor lifestyle and diet choices.

Protect and prepare yourself

Protect yourself if you have those conditions. Have high expectations of the businesses you patronize. Social distancing. masks, and hygiene are a really good idea. Isolation may really be necessary in your situation.

But consider this. Does it make sense to figure out the causes of your conditions and substitute corrective action for medication? Should you just help your immune system be prepared for the next virus?

Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. She can be contacted at, 870-490-1836. Her Facebook page is Her website is