COVID-19 (mis)information highway: Have a sick friend? What not to do

I spent two weeks this month caring for a seriously ill friend. My second biggest problem? People who scan the internet for all the bad -- or irrelevant -- advice they can offer. Don't be like them.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

Remember the dawn of the internet age? The promise of "all the world's information" at your fingertips? I do, barely.

Because that promise has turned into something very different, as I learned while nursing my friend. It seemed like every every bit of Covid-19 rumor, theory, conspiracy, and fantasy the internet could regurgitate ended up in an email or text that clamored for my attention.

No worries though. As a tech analyst, I've dealt with worse for decades.

What was hard was that all this "help" didn't help. What I really needed was something no one wanted to do: physical presence to perform physical, not virtual, tasks.

I don't blame friends for not wanting to become infected with a potentially life-threatening disease, courtesy of my mild case -- thanks for asking -- and my very sick friend. But, in the moment, stressed out -- all respect to nurses for the work they do -- I wanted real physical help.

Not misinformation. Or informed musings about the virus.

The Storage Bits take

When, not if, you have a friend in need of support during the pandemic, try to remember that they are already stressed. They may not know what they need, so offer physical actions.

Make a healthy homemade soup. Drop off some electrolyte solution. Or just about anything that says that despite the risks, you're offering something concrete.

If you must offer advice, be a filter, not an amplifier. Don't forward rumors or random theories. Stick with reputable sources, the CDC, or science reporting by physicians and/or public health experts.

Finally, caretakers are likely to be frazzled. So information you forward should include actionable recommendations that a home caregiver can perform. The opinion pieces will still be there once the crisis recedes. 

Bottom line: be a friend in deed. Don't add to a caregiver's burden just to make yourself feel like you're helping.

Comments welcome.

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