Massage & Bodywork

COVID 2020

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Hello my friends. I hope you're on hiatus, and I hope you and your family are healthy. I hope you've been safe at home, enjoying your loved ones, doing your taxes, getting your inboxes down to zero, and reassessing your work situation as you contemplate what comes next—all while doing your bit to flatten the curve. Your local health-care workers thank you for your efforts. (And as the mother of two adult children who are on the front lines of the pandemic, I thank you too.) I've been doing a lot of thinking and talking and reading about what we might expect in the near future for our profession. I have had many rich and revelatory conversations with massage therapists and educators who are trying to make the best of this situation, and I am grateful to them all. And I thank ABMP and Massage & Bodywork magazine for this opportunity to share some ideas with you. And before we go any further: a disclaimer. This is all my opinion. It's based on resources that I trust, which are listed at the end. But I've been wrong before, and I may have some of this wrong too. If I do, I will be the first to broadcast it, I promise. While I know there are still some massage therapists who are seeing clients even now (April 1, and this isn't a prank), I believe most have shut down their practices—either through ethical and risk-related reasons, or because of governmental mandates. Let's remember: your government doesn't understand your work. Some states have made exemptions for "essential services" and included versions of massage therapy, or chiropractic with massage under that umbrella. Some states have shut down massage clinics but support therapists making home visits. Some have contradictory language that leaves massage therapists utterly in the dark about whether they are allowed to be in practice. My point is this: your state's laws notwithstanding, right now it is not safe to see clients. It's not safe for you, and it's not safe for them. So even if technically you are allowed to practice, I hope you aren't doing it. Also, this won't last forever. And it's not too early to think about what things have to be in place for us to think about reentering the marketplace. What Needs to be True For Us to Work Safely? Another disclaimer: I am not an epidemiologist. My expertise in this area comes from many years of the study of the interface between massage therapy and various pathologies, and my willingness to read a lot of complicated material, and then force smart people to explain it to me. What I share here is a compilation of information and ideas I have drawn from many different resources and conversations, all through my own filter of understanding our profession and its unique position in the health-care field. Experts and epidemiologists who are working on the challenge of reopening businesses are thinking about infection rates and public safety. Some experts suggest that when 70 percent of the population has been exposed to the SARS-Co-2 virus, most people will be safe: this is called "herd immunity." But because of the high mortality rate of COVID-19, achieving 70 percent exposure is likely to result in close to a million deaths in the United States. For this reason, waiting for herd immunity to occur naturally is unacceptable. Instead, we must achieve that 70 percent rate of exposure through the use of a safe and effective vaccine—which, as you know, involves a type of controlled exposure to the virus. What Will It Look Like When We Go Back to Work? Creating a New Standard of Practice By Ruth Werner 42 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k C O V I D - 1 9 s p e c i a l i s s u e 2 0 2 0

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