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As you’re probably aware, the coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, has now been found in countries all over the globe. This is an understandably disconcerting moment for many, but there are steps we can all take to help mitigate the effect on our communities.

COVID-19 is spreading, but misinformation and disinformation are spreading even faster. The most responsible thing you can do is protect yourself from both the disease and false information. Being prepared with facts and data instead of assumptions and fabrications will help inform how you can best prepare for COVID-19.

Here are some resources you can trust:

  • WHO provides daily updates surrounding COVID-19’s spread, infection rate, and general influence on our society. Their latest update given on March 3, 2020, details that there is a shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals. They also provide a very handy FAQ section, where you can learn more about how to protect yourself and your community. 
  • Every day Worldometer updates its website with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in each country that has been affected. Worldometer has been rated one of the best free reference websites by the American Library Association, and for good reason: it lists every single one of its regular sources here, and lists the source of every COVID-19 update at the bottom of the COVID-19 page. 
  • Your local health department will often have the most up-to-date information specific to your immediate area, including how to proceed if you believe you may be showing symptoms of the virus. If you live in the United States, you can find the contact information for your health department by visiting the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

There’s another thing about this news that a lot of places are not talking about: the toll on one’s mental health, especially if you are someone who struggles with anxiety. If you find your concerns about being prepared are crossing a line that affects your mental health, please consider reaching out to a loved one who can guide you to help, a mental health professional, or an organization set up to help those in need.

Here are a couple of organizations you can trust:

  • Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support. Just text 741741 from anywhere in the United States. The Crisis Text Line will connect you with a trained Crisis Counselor. 
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (@namiorg) offers free support and resources for those who are struggling. NAMI can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am - 6 pm EST at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or by email at info@nami.org.

Take care of yourselves, Tumblr. Wash your hands well, practice keeping a safe distance from others, only wear a mask if you believe you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms and could infect others (or are immunocompromised yourself), and remember to fact check everything that you see. Head on over to @world-wide-what for a refresher on what fake news looks like and how it spreads. Pass those tips onto others when you see them accidentally spreading false information. 

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theguardian.com
NHS staff forbidden from speaking out publicly about coronavirus
Draconian measures prevent some healthcare professions discussing their work during pandemic
By Sarah Johnson

It follows reports of doctors and nurses being gagged by hospitals and other NHS bodies from speaking out about widespread shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). Tactics have included threatening emails, the possibility of disciplinary action, and some people even being sent home from work.

Workers who have spoken to the Guardian say they fear being disciplined. Several professionals said they worried about losing their jobs. Examples include an email signed by the chief executive of one NHS trust forbidding all staff from talking to the media, and incidents where staff suspect emails and social media accounts are being monitored. Requests by staff to communications departments to permit them to talk to the press have been turned down, leaving staff anxious and fearful for their jobs during the worst global public health crisis of this century.

Unions representing NHS staff have expressed their concerns. Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, national officer for health at the Unite union, which represents 100,000 health staff, said officials had been hearing that some NHS bosses may have been clamping down on staff wishing to expose failings in the system and improve the wellbeing of patients.

A spokesman from the Institute of Biomedical Science, a professional body for scientists, support staff and students, said members working for the NHS who wanted to talk about their vital role in the crisis were increasingly coming up against the same barriers. “Hospital trusts in England are silencing our requests for members to talk.”

My boyfriend wants us to start sexting and sending nudes because we can’t see each other in person. I’m afraid if I say no he’ll break up with me. What do I do?
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Someone asked us:

my boyfriend wants us to start sexting and sending nudes because we can’t see each other in person. i’m afraid if I say no he’ll break up with me. what do I do?

First thing first: it’s not ok for someone to pressure you into any sexual activity, and you have the right to say no to anything that makes you uncomfortable — no matter what. Even if you’re super into your boyfriend, even if they seem trustworthy, and even though the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing people to get creative in their dating lives.

This is a tough time for everyone, and lots of people are trying to figure out new ways to stay connected to the people in their lives while they’re social distancing. But that’s no excuse for someone to push your boundaries, and sexting can have serious consequences.

Once you hit “send” on a pic or text, it’s out of your control — even if you delete it or use Snapchat or other hidden photo apps, someone can screenshot, save, or copy what you send and spread it around. When you like or trust someone enough to send them a sext, you might never imagine that they’d show your private messages to other people. But sometimes people do harmful things that you’d never expect, especially after a fight or a breakup. And if you and/or your boyfriend are under 18, sexting can even be illegal.

When you really like someone, saying “no” might feel hard. So here are some ways you can respond:

  • I really like you, but I’m just not comfortable with sending sexts or nudes. And it makes me feel like you don’t care about me when you keep pressuring me.
  • It’s not that I don’t trust you — if your phone got hacked, lost, or stolen, the pictures could get out.
  • My parents monitor my phone. If they saw our sexts or nudes, we could both get into trouble.
  • It’s illegal for me to send you nudes and/or it’s illegal for you to have them. We could be arrested.
  • Love means respecting each other’s boundaries.
  • My feelings aren’t up for discussion — I said no.

You deserve to be with someone who cares about you and doesn’t pressure you to do things that make you feel bad, unsafe, or uncomfortable. If your boyfriend keeps pushing you after you’ve already said no, or threatens to break up with you if you don’t do what he asks, that’s a sign that the relationship isn’t healthy. Trust your gut: if something your partner’s doing feels uncool to you, it probably is. Read more about how to handle sexting, relationships, and online privacy.

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood