VIDEO: With barbershops closed, many of us are turning to homemade haircuts

As my hair raged out of control, I surrendered to a homemade haircut. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

Barbershops were among the businesses ordered to close in B.C. on March 21. My regular barbershop closed about a week earlier just as I realized I badly needed a haircut.

At the time, I joked that I would have to grow hippie hair. But by early April, my hair was growing wild and out of control and the extra weight was starting to hurt my neck. OK, that’s exaggerating a bit, but I wanted a cut.

Social media has been packed with memes about people giving themselves haircuts that turned out very badly. I learned as a kid that cutting your own hair is not a good idea – when I tried it in elementary school, I kept taking more off to try to even it out until I was bald. Never again. Continue reading “VIDEO: With barbershops closed, many of us are turning to homemade haircuts”

Shopping scares me, even though stores are doing their best to make it safe

Buy-Low Foods is doing its best to make shopping safe, but narrow aisles make physical distancing a challenge. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

As my fridge and kitchen cupboards got emptier and emptier in recent days, I realized I would have to make another dreaded trip to the grocery store.

I’ve been trying to limit my grocery shopping to once every two weeks to avoid unnecessary exposure to other people. But I only managed to hold out for 11 days. My eggs, bread and other items were all gone. The remaining small amount of milk in my jug was starting to smell.

I’ve also been holding out on a few other items I’ve needed or wanted. Prescriptions down to the last pills. A needed hardware item. And, since I don’t intend to give up all alcohol until a vaccine is available, a trip to the liquor store.

Shopping scares me. I try to go in as quickly as I can, armed with a plan, knowing exactly what I need to get. I wear a face covering, which offers limited protection to myself and others. I’m careful about what I touch and the bandana reminds me not to touch my face. Continue reading “Shopping scares me, even though stores are doing their best to make it safe”

Canada, U.S. agencies reverse advice on homemade masks, now supporting their use

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now providing advice to people on how to wear homemade masks. (Credit: CDC)

Health agencies in Canada and the U.S. have now done a 180-degree turn on their previous advice that healthy people should not wear homemade face masks.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s public health officer, in the past has opposed the use of homemade masks, arguing that they give people a false sense of security and that people might spread infection when they remove the masks. She continues to make those arguments.

But facing pressure as a growing number of countries introduce requirements for face covering in public, along with growing evidence that homemade masks can help when used in conjunction with physical distancing and hand washing, Tam relented on Monday (April 6). Continue reading “Canada, U.S. agencies reverse advice on homemade masks, now supporting their use”

UPDATE: There’s growing push-back against message that public should not wear masks Editor Richard McGuire ties a bandana over his nose and mouth when it’s necessary to enter a store. This provides limited protection to himself and others and should only be done in conjunction with physical distancing and hand washing. Perhaps more effective, it warns people not to enter his personal space. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

There’s a growing international movement advocating the use of homemade face masks in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

As pointed out in a story last week about masks on, the official line from such respected organizations as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) is that the general public should not wear masks unless they are infected or are caring for someone with the virus.

But a report yesterday (March 31) in the Washington Post suggests the CDC may be reconsidering this advice. Other countries, such as the Czech Republic, have rapidly switched from almost no public wearing of masks to generalized public use. Continue reading “UPDATE: There’s growing push-back against message that public should not wear masks”

Homemade face masks offer limited protection, but if used properly, they’re better than nothing

In Tokyo it was very normal to see people wearing face masks on the street and on public transit long before Covid-19. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The advice from health authorities on who should wear masks for protection and when is mixed. This article will outline the advice, look at the research and discuss how some people are are busy sewing masks either for themselves and their families or to provide them to emergency workers.

Continue reading “Homemade face masks offer limited protection, but if used properly, they’re better than nothing”

Distillers shifting from whiskey to hand sanitizer

Grant Stevely, owner of Dubh Glas Distillery at Gallagher Lake north of Oliver, holds up a glass of his award-winning Noteworthy Gin in July 2016. He’s now making hand sanitizer with his still in the background. (Photo: Richard McGuire for the Osoyoos Times)

Hand sanitizer these days is extremely difficult or impossible to find. That’s in part due to the high demand, but there have also been some egregious cases of hoarding.

The most notorious case involved brothers Matt and Noah Colvin of Hixson, Tennessee, who drove around their state and neighbouring ones scooping up every bottle of sanitizer they could find. In the end, they had more than 17,000 bottles, along with other much-needed supplies. Continue reading “Distillers shifting from whiskey to hand sanitizer”

How dangerous are surfaces and what can you do to be safe?

Frequently touched public surfaces like elevator buttons can carry the virus — which depending on circumstances can stay active for hours or days. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

The main way that the coronavirus causing Covid-19 spreads is by human-to-human contact.

It forms as tiny droplets when people sneeze or cough, etc. These travel through the air and you breathe them in — where they infect your respiratory system.

The recommended or required distance is two metres or just over six feet to avoid this. Aim for more if possible to be safe. And no, it’s not safe to shake hands from two metres or any distance!

But people also sneeze and cough on surfaces. They cover coughs and sneezes with their hands (why you don’t shake them) and then touch elevator buttons, card transaction machines, and all those other surfaces in our normal lives. If you handle these, then touch your face, you can get the virus. It enters through mucus membranes like your nose, eyes, mouth — you get the idea!

Washing hands thoroughly and as soon as possible after touching surfaces without touching your face is a must. But it’s hard to avoid touching faces because we do it without thinking — for some people many times in an hour.

How long does a surface stay infectious? That depends. Continue reading “How dangerous are surfaces and what can you do to be safe?”

Astronaut Chris Hadfield speaks about self isolation from experience

Astronaut Chris Hadfield has released a short YouTube video with tips on self isolation. It’s called “An Astronaut’s Guide to Self Isolation.”

The audio on the 2:05 minute video is a bit low, so crank up your speakers.

Hadfield commanded the International Space Station in December, 2012.

“I’ve spent a little time self isolating — onboard a spaceship,” he said.

Among his tips:

  • Understand the actual risk. Don’t just be afraid of things. Seek information from a credible source about the true risk you’re facing;
  • Decide your mission — what do you want to get done;
  • Consider what are the constraints;
  • Take action to do things — not necessarily the same things you did before. This can be a time to take on new challenges that you can do while in isolation, like starting a new project, learning guitar or learning a new language, read a book or write.

“It’s a chance to do something different that you’ve never done before. And then repeat,” he said.

“There has never been a better time to self isolate,” he suggests, with some much information about everything available on the internet. “You have the entire written work, all the body of everything right there at your fingertips.”


Covid-19 and pets

Quinny is my favourite dog. But with the current pandemic, is it safe to pet him? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S., there is no evidence at this time that pets can spread Covid-19 or be a source of infection. So Quinny will still get his belly rubs. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

Understandably, people are worried about different ways they might contract Covid-19. Some people are worried about transmission from pets and such fears spread like wildfire on social media.

Relax. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence that pets are a risk. They say:

At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection in the United States.

Animals can, however, get some coronaviruses, so if you are infected, you need to restrict contact with them. Continue reading “Covid-19 and pets”

What are the ‘rules’ for social distancing?

How close is too close? Health authories advise that you stay at least two metres away from others. Couples and immediate family are fine if not showing symptoms. The benches here are a little too close to the walkway for people to keep that distance, so some people walk on the bike path. (Richard McGuire Photo)

As the pandemic spreads, the rules for social distancing are changing.

Less than a week ago, public health authorities throughout North America were calling for cancellation of events with more than 250 people. Things change quickly and now even small gatherings are being called off.

The current advice is to stay at least two metres (just over six feet) away from others when you are out in public.  Obviously if you are showing symptoms or have been exposed to someone else with symptoms, you need to go further. Continue reading “What are the ‘rules’ for social distancing?”