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I'm scared to cough in public due to the chaos. How should I handle this constant scrutiny?


I have seasonal allergies, so I can definitely relate to this question. A few weeks ago, we were hearing about COVID-19 but not getting as many recommendations about social distancing. At that point, when I was meeting with a client or friend, I took the strategy of telling them about my allergies at the beginning of the interaction. I would tell them that I have allergies, but that I had checked out how the symptoms differ. Knowing that I had done my research and educating how the symptoms were different put them at ease.


More recently, as I have been following the recommendations for social distancing, I’ve found that this hasn’t really been an issue. Everyone in my home knows that I have allergies, so they aren’t concerned about the odd cough. When I go for walks, I am at least 6-10 feet away from people (although in my case, I’ve usually been totally alone, as I’m not going to crowded parks). We have been ordering food by delivery or getting it brought out to our car at the grocery store, so again, I haven’t been around people. I carry kleenex and hand sanitizer, so in case it were to happen, I could engage in the recommended behavior (sneezing into a tissue and cleaning my hands afterwards).


Of course, if you are sick, you should be staying at home.


I suspect that while it is a reasonable fear, if you are following the recommendations, you might find that it’s less of an issue than you are anticipating.


Dr. Patricia Thompson

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