With cases continuing to rise in the US and worldwide, we’re all looking for the most effective ways to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from COVID-19. While information is still limited because of the novel nature of this virus, public health officials and research universities have learned quite a bit about the new coronavirus in recent months. In this blog post, we’d like to share some of the top recommendations on coronavirus protection from the world’s leading authorities.
1. Practice Rigorous Social Distancing
One of the principle ways in which coronavirus spreads is through droplets in the air created when an infected person coughs or sneezes. To limit your risks of contracting the virus from these droplets, experts from the CDC recommend maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people, especially if you’re outside of your home. The six-foot distance is enough for larger droplets to fall out of the air, making it less likely that you’ll contract the virus from them.
Social distancing also means avoiding groups of people as much as possible. Don’t gather together with family or friends, and don’t attend any events with people who live outside of your household. If you have to go to the grocery store or perform other essential tasks, consider going at non-peak hours when foot traffic is likely to be a bit lighter.
2. Wash Your Hands Correctly
More than ever, it’s critical to practice proper hand-washing if you’re going to keep yourself healthy. Coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to several days, meaning that you can easily pick it up by touching a surface previously touched by an infected person. Rigorous hand-washing can kill pathogens on your hand. Johns Hopkins University recommends washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you’re going to use a hand sanitizer, be sure to select one that is at least 60 percent alcohol, since lower concentrations will not kill the virus.
3. Sanitize Surfaces, Including Things You Have Delivered
Needless to say, sanitizing surfaces is another good way to keep yourself protected. From door handles to shopping carts at the grocery store, you should be carefully sanitizing everything that could potentially carry viral RNA. If at all possible, try to carry a package of disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer with you, since you may have to clean surfaces on the go.
This careful cleaning is especially important when you’re having something delivered to your home, as many of us are doing more of our shopping online these days. According to Johns Hopkins University, RNA from the current strain of coronavirus can be detected on plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours after contact, while metal and cardboard surfaces hold it for about 48 hours. So, if you’re having something delivered to your home in a cardboard box or plastic bag, it’s a good idea to “quarantine” that item long enough for the virus on the surface to die off or to thoroughly disinfect the item before opening it.
4. Don’t Touch Your Face (Seriously!)
Look, we all have trouble with this one, but it’s important. From scratching itchy noses to brushing hair to the side, most of us touch our faces dozens if not hundreds of times each day. According to guidelines published by the World Health Organization, touching your face allows any viruses that may have ended up on your hands from a contaminated surface to more easily pass into your body through your eyes, nose or mouth. Even though it will take some effort on your part, it’s critical to avoid touching your face, especially if you haven’t washed or sanitized your hands immediately beforehand.
5. Wear a Mask When You Leave the House
This piece of advice has shifted a bit since the start of the pandemic. At first, health officials were not recommending the use of face coverings out of concern that respirator masks and surgical masks would run out for healthcare professionals. Recent evidence, however, has established that many carriers of COVID-19 are either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, allowing seemingly healthy people to spread the disease when they go out into public. As a supplemental measure to existing social distancing guidelines, the CDC is now recommending the use of cloth face coverings in public places.
To be very clear, this recommendation does not mean you should wear an N95 respirator mask or surgical mask when you leave the house. These masks are essential pieces of medical equipment that should be reserved for healthcare workers and those most at risk. The current recommendation suggests use of a piece of cloth, such as a scarf, to cover the mouth and nose and prevent droplet spread. If you’re crafty and don’t mind putting a little effort, you can check out this simple mask template and instructions from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
6. If in Doubt, Stay at Home
Last but not least, it’s important to stay at home if you think there’s any chance at all that you might have picked up a viral infection or if you have interacted with someone who may have. Even if you only have a slight cough or a runny nose, it’s critical to remain at home until you are over it in order to prevent further spread of the disease. Remember, even though we’re mostly reading about cases in which severe symptoms develop, it’s estimated that at least 1 in 4 cases remain asymptomatic, while many more present with only very mild symptoms. If you have any suspicion at all that you might be sick, play it safe and quarantine yourself for the recommended 14-day period.
These guidelines, coupled with the use of a little common sense, are the best known methods health officials around the world have agreed upon for slowing down the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. We strongly recommend that all of our readers implement these guidelines in order to keep themselves and others safe as the world continues to grapple with this increasing disruptive virus. Remember, we’re all in this together!