See How a Public Health Expert Is Managing the Coronavirus Crisis at Home

by Evelyn Allen

For many of us, the Coronavirus crisis may be our first experience with a serious pandemic response. Each of us is working to quickly adapt in all areas of life.

But for experienced public health experts like Marissa Brash, DrPH, EdD, MPH, CPH, chair of Azusa Pacific University’s Department of Public Health in the School of Nursing, the COVID-19 outbreak is an opportunity to put into practice years of knowledge and research. Brash is nationally certified in public health and has a background in biostatistics and epidemiology.

To provide insight into how those with training are managing the COVID-19 crisis at home, Brash shared recommendations and strategies from her own life.

Start By Staying Informed

Brash said staying informed is key to making decisions during a public health situation like COVID-19. “It’s easier to make wise choices when you have the real facts,” she said.

Seek out credible sources that provide data and guidelines created by health experts. “There is so much information out there, but not all of it is credible and valid,” Brash said. “Look to reliable sources like your state and county health departments. This will help you weed out inaccurate or misleading information that can exacerbate fear and anxiety.”

Personally, Brash likes to use Twitter to follow the public health departments for Los Angeles County, Orange County, and the State of California. She creates Twitter alerts that keep her up-to-date in real time and also follows state and national leaders.

Take Public Health Recommendations to Heart

All those reminders to wash your hands often (and for at least 20 seconds), to stay home, and to practice physical distancing are for a very good reason. Get familiar with the preventative measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Depending on your circumstances—for example, if you work in healthcare or at a grocery store—that may entail even more strict measures. “In our family, we decided to practice physical distancing even under our own roof,” Brash explained. “My husband and I have elected to sleep in different bedrooms to minimize our contact and exposure risk.”

Brash also noted the importance of:

  • Using antibacterial soap and hot water, and following the five steps to washing your hands well.
  • Saving hand sanitizer for use when you are not at home.
  • Supporting neighbors and loved ones who are most at risk by making no-contact deliveries of groceries and other essentials.

Establish Your Routine at Home

While stay-at-home orders like California’s “Safer at Home” directive are not forever, they are here for the time being. It may take some adjusting to find what helps you feel whole and productive, said Brash.

“Try to stick to routines when possible, maintaining consistent schedules for sleeping, eating, and exercise habits, along with dedicated time for work and school commitments,” she said.

At the same time, fresh experiences and practices can bring joy and satisfaction into our lives during a challenging season. “This is a good time to pick up an old hobby or start something new,” said Brash. “At my house, we are starting an herb garden and cleaning out the boxes in the garage that have been gathering dust for a long time.”

Keep Communicating and Reaching Out

As a parent, Brash is also helping her 8-year-old daughter process, understand, and learn from the experience. She encourages open communication at the appropriate developmental level when talking about the Coronavirus with children.

“There are a lot of changes my daughter is noticing, so we are addressing them directly with her,” Brash said. “Kids hear more than we realize, and it is important that they are receiving reliable information and feel safe asking questions and expressing their fears and concerns.”

For those who live alone or far away from friends and loved ones, a sense of isolation or loneliness can arise, but there are many ways to combat those feelings. “We need to be intentional about finding ways to connect with friends and family using virtual tools,” Brash said. “Try using new apps in a fun way to keep connecting with loved ones from a distance.

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving every day and placing unforeseen boundaries into our lives, she said, “we can still use this time to lift each other up.”

Evelyn Allen, M.S. ’19, is a senior editor in the Office of University Relations.