Massage and COVID-19 Coronavirus
Massage and COVID-19 coronavirus is a topic that must be addressed and understood, especially in the massage industry. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19, popularly known as coronavirus, as a world pandemic.
As of now, thousands of cases have been recorded with hundreds dead in the U.S., courtesy of COVID-19. Most noteworthy, as a massage therapists, you should be worried for the virus is transmitted through contact and spreads exponentially.
Hence, that puts massage therapists at risk of infection since massage is entirely a contact practice. Moreover, as a licensed massage therapist, you deal with different types of clients. Some are stubborn, and do not practice safe hygiene, and thus increase the risk of spreading the highly contagious virus.
On January 20, 2020 the Washington State Department of Health announced the first case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the U.S. On March 23, 2020 the governor of Washington State issued a Shelter in Place stay at home order. Moreover, since March 24th, 2020, Seattle, King County, has had 1,577 people infected and 109 deaths from COVID-19.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
Quick Links for Massage and (COVID-19) Coronavirus :
The CDC guide: “COVID-19 Symptoms”.
The CDC’s guide: “Protect Yourself and Your Family”.
Massage Magazine article on effective handwashing: “Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus & Other Pathogens”.
World Health Organization’s guide: “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19 Outbreak”.
The CDC’s guide, “Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities”.
The CDC Coronavirus Summary: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Massage Magazine article: Screening out coronavirus with your intake form.
Alert! Update For Licensed Massage Therapists!
An informative, and perhaps a controversial article written by Melissa Ryan, LMT, and Steubenville, OH, was published by Massage Magazine on March 26, 2020. Melissa directly suggests that massage therapists shut down immediately and suspend their practice until further notice.
Melissa states that the nature of the close contact is inescapable in massage treatments. Therefore, LMT’s are at the forefront of endangering the public in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Furthermore, the Massage Magazine article “Coronavirus and Its Impact on the Massage Industry” states that those in the profession must put the health of others ahead of the financial burden of closing up offices.
Is Massage a “Selective Business”?
Many U.S. State and city ordinances have allowed so called “selective businesses” to remain open despite orders to “shelter in place”. As a retail massage clinic, you may not have a say so in keeping your doors open to the public. However, as a freelance licensed therapist, you may have the desire and choice to keep your “clients” and family healthy and relaxed through massage and this pandemic.
Many health professionals are on the front lines combatting the virus, while at the same time sacrificing their own lives to help the sick and infected.
Likewise, it is imminent to come together and stay informed for yourself, your colleagues, and clients. Be proactive strategically as a healthcare professional to help combat this horrible virus outbreak.
Consequently, the information contained in this article is very important and in no way is be construed as a pass to continue to work with clients. Also, use this blog now and in the future as a preamble and guide to what we have encountered and learned so far from this worldwide pandemic.
Massage Industry COVID-19 Coronavirus Shutdown
COVID-19 has disrupted all facets of the massage industry from supply chain manufacturers to the freelance LMT. Across the U.S. and world, it is definitely not business as usual. Also, most company employees are now working from home that supply equipment and massage products.
Furthermore, massage schools are moving to make virtual teaching the new shelter in place norm. CE hour courses and schools are having to shutter hands on classroom education due to the virus distancing.
Furthermore, to work or to stop working is the question? Most states and cities are going to put a stop to all business and persons in the massage industry, including spas, salons, and more.
Everyone may have no choice but to close up shop. There is no set date as to when everyone in the U.S. can go back to work. As March 2020, the dates around the country to stop the quarantine and go back to work is allegedly April 15, 2020, yet no one knows for sure.
Moreover, San Francisco Bay Area residents have been told to shelter in place for three weeks, beginning March 17. Businesses that or considered non-essential have been ordered to close including those in the massage industry.
Every type of business that comes face to face with people are being mandated to close. This includes most in the massage business. If the coronavirus continues to spread, all licensed massage business and massage therapists will have to close their doors.
Effects of COVID-19 Coronavirus on Healthcare Workers
Hence, healthcare workers are one of the most vulnerable professionals as far as corona infection is concerned. Moreover, a few weeks after the virus was reported, healthcare professionals who didn’t know how to handle COVID-19 suspects became infected.
Even many who practiced safely contracted the virus. Others had to be sent home for having been in contact with infected individuals in a bid to contain the virus through self-quarantine. Most noteworthy, the scariest part is that some infected individuals do not show signs of the virus initially.
Consequently, it is human nature to lose cautiousness when unaware. Therefore, you may assume a client is free from the virus and not refrain from contact with him/her. Later to your astonishment, you realize the client is corona positive. Likewise, at this juncture, you cannot lose caution.
Above all, China recorded numerous infected healthcare workers. This update came weeks after the infection broke out. Sadly, many of them lost their lives. Other than death, these workers have had to stay quarantined for a while. Moreover, the isolation has had an energy draining impact on health professionals. The morale killing practice takes away the joy of freedom and motivation to grow your career. This is especially true for young professionals.
Precautions Massage Therapists Should Take Concerning The COVID-19 Coronavirus
Even more, whether you are a doctor or not, you must possess the ability to recognize COVID-19 symptoms. You have to be on the guard to protect yourself. So, what should you know? First of all, knowledge of the novel coronaviruses symptoms is critical. It will help you identify a potentially infected client and one who’s just a probable case.
Certainly, any client right now is either a probable case or a suspected case. However, you need to maintain professionalism when dealing with your clients now and into the future. Even for suspected cases, stay calm and act like the professional you are.
Consequently, that helps to avoid raising unnecessary alarms which may mean loss of business. Keep in mind a corona negative client will never look for your services because you unfairly victimized him/her.
Some Coronavirus Symptoms to Look for Include:
- Shortness of breath
Most noteworthy, the three are not the only symptoms pointing to COVID-19. Hence, you also need to be cautious because a client may show similar symptoms but he/she does not carry the virus and tests negative. The point here is to be cautious whether or not a client is symptomatic, but stay professional. Moreover, if you see any of the above symptoms, you should be more alert.
In addition to the symptoms, you need to know who are at the highest risk of contracting the disease. This is crucial so that you know who to handle more cautiously. The old and those with compromised immune systems are high risks. Most noteworthy, when dealing with such elderly people, you should be extra careful.
Steps to Take as a Massage Therapist and COVID-19:
- Personal hygiene
Caution: First of all, it is not negotiable if you want to protect yourself and others. As a result, researchers and the CDC recommends washing your hands and using sanitizers as much as possible. Even though sanitizer has been hard to find, there are many substitutes and homemade solutions to making your own hand sanitizer.
Likewise, wash your hands after every encounter with a client. Moreover, even dishwashing liquid can be substituted for sanitizer. The novel coronavirus cannot survive for too long on human hands. Unlike a norovirus, the coronavirus protection shell can be dissolved relatively easy with soap and water.
Furthermore, also for the reason that, this is due to the high temperatures present in the hands. Thus, washing your hands and using sanitizers helps to get rid of the virus from the hands and spread it to others.
- Advise your client
Above all, as a healthcare practitioner, your specialty doesn’t matter. It is your duty to ensure your client is safe too. Why? First, you risk being infected if your client is infected. Moreover, you may lose business if your client doesn’t return due to a corona infection.
Also, educating your customer on how to handle and prepare for the pandemic has a direct impact on your success as a massage therapist. What may seem common sense to you is not obvious to others?
Do not mind even if it means repeating the same cautionary message again and again. Finally, at the end of the day, it is better safe than sorry. Hence, prevention has always been better than cure.
- Front line experts
In addition, many medical buildings have incorporated taking the temperature of people before entry into the facility. Once a client passes the screening test, an OK sticker is placed on them so they may be allowed to safely gain access to the healthcare providers in the facility.
Most important, anyone displaying symptoms of the COVID-19 should be isolated at the entrance. From there, the government policy on suspected cases should be implemented immediately. This first offensive line of experts should always be on alert as well as freelancers, LMT’s, and RMT’s. Any fault and the rest of the massage therapists risk infection.
- Do not attend to anyone displaying coronavirus symptoms
Most important, whether minor or major, keep away from clients, as well as, anyone exhibiting COVID-19 like symptoms. The fact that many infected worldwide have died, and others recovered, means the COVID-19 virus is a 50-50 affair. Therefore, you cannot jeopardize putting you and clientele at risk.
In Seattle for instance, in the month of March, 2020, there has been 3723 corona positive confirmed cases resulting in 175 deaths. Many other U.S. states are showing an increase of those infected especially in New York and California.
Thus, as a result, many cities are enforcing shelter in place protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19. Those displaying risks have been asked to stay at home to prevent infecting others in case they are positive.
Therefore, kindly remind your client to self-isolate in the event he/she displays any symptoms. It is out of your power as to whether your clients will agree to that or not. But, you have the authority to choose to serve them.
Above all, the COVID-19 virus is transferred through contact. Therefore, you cannot risk coming into close contact with strangers.
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
First of all, this is really important since you do not know who you are coming into contact with. Now, the problem is not in wearing PPE but removing and disposing of PPE properly. Hence, many healthcare workers get it right when it comes to wearing protective equipment.
In fact, almost everybody does. Moreover, once your PPE is on, it becomes contaminated. The problem now comes in getting the equipment off or having to reuse PPE due to shortages.
Similarly, there is a reason why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is not recommending relying on the wearing of masks for protection. Moreover, unless you are wearing a N95 respirator mask, many other mask are consider useless in combating COVID-19.
Furthermore, another problem is that there is a shortage of coronavirus N95 masks. Consequently, a mask may also increase your chances of infection when being mindless, careless and recirculated . Thus, the majority of people do not know the correct way to use protective equipment.
Moreover, this is so true especially when it comes to health hazards involving chemicals and infections. Getting off the protective equipment is a skill you have to master. The facemask is the bone of contention. It is not just about wearing the mask.
Furthermore, pick anyone randomly around you and observe them. Take a stare at them but ensure they don’t catch you. Observe their mannerism. Hence, you’ll be surprised how many times humans tend to touch their face, head and hair.
In ten minutes, they would have touched their eyes, nose, ear, hair, forehead or chin severally. Consequently, imagine what impact that has on spreading the virus?
Moreover, imagine having a mask on. The mask offers the virus a perfect landing place in case you come to contact with an infected person. Coming back to human nature, you go ahead and touch your face, eyes and nose many times in a day.
Also, you adjust your mask once or twice during the day due to the discomfort the mask causes. In essence, you are playing around with the virus and giving it more opportunity to spread. You are simply infecting yourself. As a result, you therefore have to be careful when having your PPE on.
Even more, there are basic rules you need to follow when removing and disposing of your protective equipment. One rule is having the last item you put on come off first. Likewise, the first PPE you wore should come off last.
- Get daily and up to the minute reporting
As a licensed healthcare provider, it is your responsibility to get your states health board alerts, as well as, social feeds and news for your local practice area.
Moreover, every second counts when alleviating a deadly virus like COVID-19. Most noteworthy, staying informed and ahead of the curve is crucial to protecting the public and yourself.
Massage Client Sensitivity to the COVID-19
While you are being cautious to protect yourself, clients too are taking precautions. That is why you expect certain questions from some of your clients. Your response will determine if they will come again or leave for good. Therefore, you need to be ready for explanations. Most noteworthy, the panic is so massive that you expect demands from patients.
Moreover, instead of waiting for the questions, you may take an early step and communicate prior. This will reassure your clients of their safety under your premises. The reassurance will calm their nerves and shield them from unnecessary panic.
Furthermore, clients know they are not the only ones using your equipment and supplies such as towels. They are aware you deal with many other customers that may potentially be carrying the virus. While some may ask, a few others will never. Still, they have similar thoughts.
Hence, the only difference is their lack of communication. Such clients should be handled with better care. Why? Because, once their fears engulf them, they cannot relax, and moreover, they may never come back. Therefore, make it a point and procedure from here on out, and even after the virus is contained, to communicate with your clients.
Massage Client COVID-19 Coronavirus Assertiveness
By now, everybody knows handwashing and sanitization are vital prevention measures. Let each client see you wash or sanitize your hands. Hence, go ahead and remind them to do the same before they ask.
Show your customers where the sanitizer is. That way, they can be sure you are taking care of them by taking care of yourself. Above all, they may not be convinced 100%, but at least you’d have gotten rid of some of their fears.
Finally, while it may sound petty, it is important to let your clients know how you clean your laundry. Consequently, everyone is concerned about the novel coronavirus and they are willing to listen.
They will give you an ear as long as the detail is helpful in reducing their chances of contracting the disease. Moreover, remember your services are much needed once allowed to help clients cope with the stress and hardship this pandemic has created.
Make Use of Social Media During the COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak
In addition, at the moment, many people are staying at home to minimize exposure. This is an opportunity to remind your clients of their importance to you. Furthermore, engage your clients using social media. Also, regular posts with reminders of infection prevention and control will be helpful.
Moreover, as of now, the US and other governments are keen on social media users updating misleading information online. Consequently, you can be sure to get into trouble if you post the wrong information online. Mostly, just stay safe and protect each other and your clients.
Above all, massage is one of the many businesses heavily affected by the corona nightmare. This is especially true in areas with many reported cases. Therefore, you should expect business to slow down. Since the nature of your work does not allow you to work isolated from home, maximize the use of social media.
Likewise, your posts should show professionalism and consideration. The updates should be informative because your clients will take nothing less than quality non-biased information.
Washington State COVID-19 Alert
Most noteworthy, as of March 23, 2020 the governor of Washington State has issued a 2 week stay at home shelter in place order for it’s 7 million residents. The order instructs all non-essential businesses to close including bars, dine in restaurants, entertainment, recreation facilities and more until April 6th.
This order is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many other states have issued similar orders, including California, New York, Georgia, and more.
Regular Disinfection for COVID-19 & Coronavirus
Furthermore, because up to now, there’s some evidence that COVID-19 may likely remain airborne. That means, gravity acts on the virus once an infected person releases drops of the virus into the air. The drops land on a surface and from there, others get infected. Consequently, this means cleaning must be at its best all times. Thus, repeated wiping and cleaning of surfaces is mandatory.
Even more, a client will get to your premise and stand along the corridors without minding the safety of others. He/she will lean on surfaces without thinking of it as a potential health hazard.
Moreover, children are culprits of touching things and inserting their fingers inside their mouths. Knowing that, it would be wise if the cleaning team did their work well. Disinfecting surfaces that practitioners and clients come into contact with regularly will save the unaware from contracting unnecessary infections.
Most noteworthy, which points should be given more attention? Admission, billing and discharge mostly takes place at a desk or table with pen, and paper. Therefore, the front desk should be disinfected time and again. POS machines used for credit payments, door handles, pens, chairs, and other frequently used surfaces should be sanitized thoroughly.
Also, not only that, put up stickers with notices. Let your clients be aware of the looming danger. Bring back their awareness. A poster with “AVOID LEANING ON SURFACES” will do a lot of good to your customers. “WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE AND AFTER LEAVING” could also save a life. As a responsible healthcare provider, you do not want to risk your clients’ lives, especially during COVID-19 coronavirus 2019.
Alternative Therapy Coronavirus Protection
Even more, alternative medicine is the use of medical solutions other than the conventional ones. Homeopathy and acupuncture are good examples of alternative medicine. When it comes to therapy, there are alternatives to contact massage. In this case, alternative therapy is used not as a replacement but as an option for protection against COVID-19.
Mostly, as a therapist, you do not want to put your life at risk. Hence, the best thing to do is allow your client do self-therapy under your guidance. This means you have to turn into a consultant.
Above all, for each specific client, listen to their problems and doctor’s recommendations. I believe as a professional, you know what to do. Guide them step by step as they follow. Moreover, this may be a great opportunity to video call and have a face to face communication. Check the progress and recommend accordingly.
The sad news is some cases require the client to be there physically. In such cases, you have no other option than let your client visit you. Even then, only allow clients you are sure are free from COVID-19. Doing otherwise will leave you regretting that for the rest of your life. You do not want to lose your life chasing money.
Shelter in Place & Social Distancing
Most noteworthy, as mentioned, the government is shutting down non-essential services and business. Consequently, massage is one of the most affected. Employees are asked to work from home to contain this contagious infection.
As a student of massage, it is possible to learn massage school curriculum from home. Taking lectures from your residence is possible. All you need is internet connectivity and you’ll be able to stream classes in the comfort of your home.
In addition, this is not a time to question some decisions. It is understandable to be angered by such harsh measures like lockdowns. The government is only concerned with the safety of its citizens. Above all, the virus is likely going to cause unimaginable havoc if everything were to go on normally. Most noteworthy, consequently the current shutdowns have long term benefits both financially and health wise.
Also, so called social distancing is a term now used allowing ample room, such as six feet, between yourself and others. This distance is used as a guide to diminish the chance of getting COVID-19.
Other massage service providers did not wait for the government to suspend the practice. Upon realizing the looming danger, they took initiative and suspended their practice. This means losing business but safeguarding its employees.
Massage Schools and the COVID-19 Coronavirus
Moreover, massage schools closing down has its impact too. It is important to keep in mind academic institutions are one of the riskiest places to be during this spread. Once the infection hits one student, the rest of the state is at risk. Leaners are mostly ambitious individuals and interact repeatedly among themselves. The same individuals go back to their homes and interact with their parents.
Furthermore, most schools and universities as of March 2020 have closed and sent students home for the time being. Likewise, through teleconferencing and online applications such as Zoom, students can complete their curriculum remotely.
However, state massage and health boards include hands-on student curriculum as part of the licensing requirements. Who knows what impact this disruption of licensing board requirements will have on our future LMT’s, doctors, EMT’s, and other healthcare providers.
It doesn’t end at home. Most social events, including spring break, are filled with college students. The rate at which these young men and women socialize puts their lives at risk in case some get infected.
Massage students should therefore feel favored for being asked to study from home. Although, some will feel let down for the weeks they will spend away from their closest friends and colleagues and the delay towards their licensing graduation.
Compensation to Massage Therapists During COVID-19
Due to the nature of massage treatment, some client’s book and schedule sessions in advance. With the shock of the virus that is attacking the world, shutdowns may mean cancellation of these schedules.
How should you act in such a situation? Some clients overreact. Therefore, you should expect such clients to demand their money back. Others will be more than willing to wait for the corona pandemic to pass.
Both cases call for wise decision making. A client asking for refund of their money is unlikely a loyal one. Or, he/she might just be insecure with his/her money. Likewise, do not hesitate to refund the money for the sake of peace. But, you may give such clients alternatives. As a wise business person, you should not make decisions for your clients. Instead, you give them options and let them decide.
For those willing to wait, maintain constant communication and regular updates on the latest news to your clients.
Government Intervention from COVID-19
A caring government will never let its citizens go down because of a pandemic. The US government has put in place measures and a $2 trillion dollar rescue package and CARES ACT to cushion its industries, business, citizens, and students from the financial loses the virus will cause.
This way, different industries will pick up from where they left after the virus has been contained. This means, taking a break from your massage practice may not have great impact in the long run. This is courtesy of the government coming in to cushion enterprises and tax paying massage freelancers with cash payments.
Likewise, hopefully when the virus has been contained and the shelter in place has been lifted, the economy and world can get back to business as usual. The massage industry is taking a huge financial disruption. Not only freelance LMT’s, but those that employ massage therapists including cruise lines, hotels, spas, franchises, mall massage kiosks, hospitals, and more.
Not only is the government intervening but WHO is also concerned. The international health organization is giving out funds to governments to help contain the spread of the infection. This way, states are able to stabilize as quickly as possible and move back to business as usual. As a result, businesses and the citizens will get back on their feet.
Some employers focus on profit only. Their employees’ welfare is not of their interest. Furthermore, you need to be firm and abide by the government regulations even if your employer is such mean. Hence, at the end of the day, you are likely to face the law if you go against the government directives.
Temporary Close Massage Practice Due to COVID-19?
Finally, massage is an industrious profession. It is entertaining yet challenging. As the world faces the corona pandemic, massage remains one of the most dangerous professional practices to engage in. The rapidly spreading coronavirus situation has caused closure from business events, gatherings, etc.
As a massage therapist employee or freelance LMT, you may be ordered to close and cease your practice from a city, county or government order. Furthermore, nobody knows what the next step the virus will take. Better be prepared and informed if the worst occurs.
Even more, with the recent #metoo movement affecting the massage industry along with the COVID-19, many freelancers and franchises have been excessively impacted by these events.
Consequently, the safest thing to do now is reschedule appointments with clients. It is better to be safe than sorry. Being a contact practice, you put your life at risk. Remember some COVID-19 patients do not display any signs.
This lack of symptoms displayed complicates the situation further. Above all, avoid crowded places and maintain high sanitation standards and wait for the situation to improve. And also, a BIG SHOUT OUT to all the doctors, nurses, and medical workers on the front lines. In conclusion, everyone including massage therapist should Stay Informed, and Stay Positive!
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