Coronavirus Tips: How to Avoid a Trip to the ER During the Outbreak

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Just before we launched the new NBC10 Boston a few years ago, I was rushing around our house before a team promotion shoot. Summer was fading to fall, and I went to take our air conditioner out of our window before work.

Long story short, my wife told me to “slow down” and think before I started. Well, I threw caution to the wind, opened the window, the cord wrapped around my finger and the A/C unit went tumbling out the window -- yes, attached to my finger.

After a trip to urgent care, it was diagnosed as a spiral fracture (see below). I was in and out within an hour, and thanks to some painkillers I was camera-ready that day. But it did require a couple of follow-up appointments with my primary care physician and recommended physical therapy.

Chris Gloninger's X-ray from when he broke his finger a few years ago.

According to the American Hospital Association, there are 924,107 staffed beds in ALL hospitals in the United States. That’s a scary thought when a non-vaccinated pandemic virus is essentially on the loose.

So, let’s talk about some tips to help you possibly avoid that trip to urgent care or the doctor's office...

The next few weeks, you’ll most likely be spending a lot of time at home. You might think it’s a good time to get some house projects done. But it might make sense to do a risk and hazard analysis -- if it’s painting the walls, you’re probably OK. If it’s labor intensive work requiring power tools, well, it might be time to give those projects some serious thought.

You know you best -- you know what you can do and what you can’t do. If you think that project could send you to the hospital, it might be better to take a rain check.

The American Red Cross and blood banks across the nation are putting out an urgent call for donors amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As the virus spreads and events and businesses close, donations are dropping, dangerously in some areas.

Be more vigilant and defensive when you are on the roads, too. Look not once, not twice, but even three times before you proceed through a four-way stop. Even if you’re driving in tip-top shape, the other driver might not be. Maybe they’re stressed over the pandemic, maybe they haven’t been sleeping. Just slow down and drive safe.

Make sure all of your prescriptions are up-to-date and refilled! First responders might get to the point where they’re responding to numerous/simultaneous calls. Do your part to mitigate that risk -- from having an Epipen if you have allergies, to heart medication if you have a cardiac history, to whatever your individual needs may be. (Also, if you don’t know CPR, this is a good time to try to find a way to learn at least hands-only CPR online.)

Sleep. Get lots of it. It helps promote a healthy immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, “During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called Cytokines, some of which helps promote sleep.” Sleep deprivation decreases the amount of Cytokines made by your body. The Mayo Clinic says, “Cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress.”

NBC10 Boston's Shira Stoll drove into Boston at 8:30 AM Monday morning to test the commute.

The moral of this story is don’t do anything overly risky. Know your boundaries. Take care of yourself. Stay rested. Our medical system is going to be put to the test and could be pushed past capacity. If you’re able to stay out of a hospital bed, it frees up the space for someone who’s life might depend on it.

You normally see me telling you the weather or talking about climate change, but I’m also a former first responder and have my master of science in emergency management. I’ve been on the ground following disasters ranging from hurricanes to tornadoes. During a crisis, all normalcy is thrown out the window. I’ll be coming up with tips throughout this crisis to help make your life more “normal.” If you have questions, comments or concerns – feel free to email me at

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