And this is what it is.
Novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). It is NOT a flu virus or anything like the flu virus.
The symptoms are cough, difficulty breathing, fever, chills, body aches and pains, blood clots, kidney failure, heart failure, pneumonia, lung damage. It can cause headaches, fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms and loss of smell/taste.
It is spread through droplets from the mouth and nose that land on objects and are picked up by another person on their hands and is transmitted to their mouth or nose or eyes. It can be picked up in the air before it lands on surfaces. It is thought to be in the air at least 6 feet away from the source yet the number is really just the best information we currently have.
The incubation period is 2-15 days and people can have it and not know it. Symptoms are often non-existent to mild to severe. People with other health conditions like immune system problems, lung problems and diabetes get it worse along with the elderly. We don’t know why some healthy people also get very bad cases of it.
There is no known treatment or vaccine.
There is no way to effectively screen clients for having COVID-19 without having a test but even the tests are inaccurate.
There are not enough tests yet in the US. Anyone with a cold or other symptoms could have this. Many could have had it last fall and early January as there were no tests being done. Many massage therapists are coming up with intake forms to try to do this and talking about taking people’s temperatures and O2 levels but this will NOT rule out that they have it.
Liability waivers will not protect you from law suits. Your liability insurance does not cover the spread of disease and pandemics. There are law suits already starting. They are mainly involving negligence on the part of the spa or massage therapist.
Our professional liability companies have yet to say whether or not we are covered if we are found to be spreading the virus. Then there is the added risk of being an employer and not having proper PPE or protocols in place to also keep your employees safe from getting or spreading the virus.
If you are an employee and are not provided the required PPE and the place you work is not providing adequate cleaning and social distancing, you could report them to OSHA or even sue them if you get it.
States are starting to implement contact tracing that will be able to trace where the virus is coming from and who came in contact with it. You will be required to share information with your clients and with the government contact tracers.
The tests are inaccurate. Negative tests are 30-40% inaccurate meaning if you test negative you still could have it. (My neighbor was tested a few weeks ago and was told this.)
Testing is one of the keys to getting things back to normal. There still are not enough tests. People need to be tested and then if found positive, tracked to see where they have been and quarantined. People who are found to have been in contact with the person will also be quarantined. Contact tracing is allowed under HIPAA Privacy Laws.
When You Open
This is not written to scare you, it is written to inform you. If you feel like it is some scare tactic or fear mongering then it might be good to check to see what is driving that feeling you are having. It may be because you know that the risks of being a massage therapist and spreading this disease are great and there is much to think about and have in place to reopen.
You should know how to clean your office at this point from all of the information out there. No amount of cleaning will stop this. A person with the infection can come in and spread the virus all over the office.
The most effective way of stopping it is social distancing. Next after that is having a set up where you can keep the virus particles from hitting you if you are less than 6feet away. (See hierarchy of defense by the CDC.) That of course is impossible for giving a massage. You are in a closed room, less than 6 feet apart making it the highest risk of spreading the virus. The last line of defense is wearing a facemask and eye protection. That is not 100% effective either but it is the best chance you have of not getting it and spreading it to your clients. Most of the facemasks that are available are just dust masks and do not stop the spread of the water droplets. The N95 masks will protect you from getting it and spreading it but they need special fitting and they need to be worn all day long and taken off in specific says to reduce the spreading. Massage therapists are not trained in the use of these masks. They also need to be reserved for nurses, doctors, police and fire departments.
Surgical masks are the next best thing. I am starting to find them on Amazon Business where they are reserving products for healthcare providers. You have to have an NPI number to be able to purchase them. I also found hand sanitizer and eye protection there. I am not yet sure if they are able to fill the supply to hospitals and doctors, nurses, police, firefighters and rescue workers who need them first.
Your state Department of Health or Governors office will inform you of the specific things you will need to do to reopen. Our professional associations AMTA and ABMP should be informing them about massage and our work to help them create the best guidelines. I did see where one state was asking for input from the Federation of Massage State Boards. Your AMTA State Chapters are working on this too and the states that have a lobbyist are using that to make the connections needed to give input into the best practices guidelines. Each state is different.
For more info on reopening see what some states are recommending as guidelines. Article Review for Best Massage Practices in a Post Covid-19 Economy For review to the New Hampshire Re-opening Economy Task ForceThursday May 7, 2020Prepared by Linda Garvey LMT
It is what it is.
When this pandemic started for me back on March 4 it took me a few weeks of grieving, researching, worrying and saying this can’t be right to get to the point of being able to say… It is what it is.
Now 2 1/2 months later, I am getting to the same point of being able to say it is what it is. Everyone is on their own path of figuring out when it is the right time to reopen their massage business. The fighting on Facebook has to stop now. There is no right or wrong time to reopen. You just have to be able to handle the risks of opening.
I am watching the numbers. I am preparing what I can. I am thinking I might start reopening slowly and just have clients in who I know have been socially distancing and not taking any new clients at this time. It is just a waiting game now. Waiting for the specific guidelines for my state. Waiting to see if the PPE orders come in. (It looks like they are not coming in until June right now.)
I have worked to provide people with the best information that I found at the time and will continue to do so.
How can we all get to the point of not reacting and just being informed. This isn’t fear mongering. It isn’t stepping on your civil rights. You can have your fears and reactions but don’t let them have you. Can you just accept what it is and work towards reopening safely?
It is what it is.