PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- If there’s one person who knows how to get through a self-quarantine, look no further than astronaut Mark Kelly. Kelly tells Arizona’s Family that he’s launched into space on four different missions. Preparing for those missions, Kelly says, has helped prepare him for the current situation that both he and millions of Americans find themselves in during this COVID19 pandemic.
One of the good things about being stuck at home right now is if you have a pet.
Kelly sat down with Arizona’s Family to talk about what it’s like to be isolated in space, and if he has any tips for Arizonans who are forced to stay home during this outbreak.
"Well, one thing is, I think it's really important that you try to maintain a schedule. Get up at a certain time. Don't lose those other things that you had in your life before like a certain wake-up time, doing certain things during the day, and to try to follow that schedule to some extent, but at the same time, try to inject some variety. Make sure you get some exercise if that's something you would normally do before we had to isolate ourselves.”
According to health experts, isolation for recovering alcoholics and addicts can be dangerous.
Kelly wants Arizonans to see this as an opportunity to slow down, and perhaps try something new. “Try to find some sort of a hobby to occupy that free time. Maybe become better at photography. Learn a new language. Crew members who spent a lot of time in space always bring some sort of a hobby with them.”
Before each mission to space, Kelly would be forced into quarantine for about five days to make sure he didn’t bring a virus onboard the shuttle and sicken his fellow astronauts.
“We know from our experience that separating people will keep us safe from transmitting viruses. So we got to continue to look at this list and make sure we are doing the things that flatten the curve. We need to listen to the scientists and the public health professionals and take their recommendations,” Kelly says about the current public health crisis, referring to social distancing guidelines now in place to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.
While Kelly says social distancing is extremely important right now, he says Arizonans should stay connected no matter what using technology. Kelly says he made sure to stay connected with friends and family even while flying in space.
"I'd say most importantly is try to stay connected. When we're on the International Space Station, it's really important that we stay connected with friends and family on the ground. Here, when we're isolated in our houses, we can do the same thing.”
Kelly, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, says he’s been following the Gov. Doug Ducey's executive orders and is well aware that many Arizonans have lost their job because of COVID-19. He says he knows many people are worried about how to pay their rent and put food on the table for the family. Kelly tried to exude hope and optimism.
"Try to stay as positive as you can. Our country is really good at working through difficult problems. I mean, we sent people to the moon in the 1960s. We're really good at figuring out hard things, and we can figure this out. We've got great scientists and medical professionals and public health officials working on this, so try to stay positive. I know it's really stressful, and I really feel for those folks who may have lost their job here in the last couple of weeks. And they're really struggling. So, as a community, we really have to come together to support them to help them through this. We can get through this as a state. We are a tough state. I mean, this is Arizona. We can get through this. We just have to do it as a team."
Kelly’s wife, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, has made incredible strides in her recovery since being shot in a mass shooting at a campaign event in 2011. Mark says he and his wife are in good health, staying at home during this pandemic, and following the guidelines being set by public health officials. That includes making sure they are both getting enough exercise.
"Gabby and I are doing great. I have a little bit of experience with this. She has less, but she's very positive. She's out on her bike every day or so. I'm getting up early, sticking to a schedule. Our daughter Claire is here with us and working from home in Arizona, and we walk every morning at about 9 o'clock. I get on a stationary bike. She gets on a treadmill. We are also trying to stay connected to those people who are usually in our daily lives and even those we've lost touch with. We've got to figure out a way where something by definition is kind of a negative experience and turn it into a positive,” Kelly says.