The spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus has many of thinking about ways to stay germ-free. Our infectious disease expert, Dr. Rossana Rosa, shares five of her top tips so you can protect yourself against COVID-19, or any virus, really, when you need to be out in public.
“Adjust your strategy. Try to identify times of the day when there are less people shopping. Try to adjust your routine to avoid large groups of people,” Dr. Rosa says.
Another idea – use the pickup or delivery option at a store, that’s another way to avoid public interaction.
Think about How you Pay
If you do head out shopping, think about how you pay. Money is full of germs since it’s been passed between people. If you can’t avoid using cash, keep hand sanitizer around to use immediately after touching it.
Using a credit card might be a better option. However, if you must sign or enter a pin for your purchase, you’re facing the germs on the keypad. Many stores are now wiping keypads down more frequently due to COVID-19. However, it’s good practice to wash or sanitize your hands after touching a keypad, signature pen or anything similar. It’s also a good idea to wipe down your credit card with a disinfectant wipe, too.
Hot Tip: Bring your own pen to avoid transferring germs back.
Pretend You Don’t Have Fingers
OK, that seems weird, we know. Honestly, try to keep your fingers from touching anything public through the day.
- Elbow the buttons in the elevator
- Pull your sleeves over your hands when opening doors
- Look for automatic door openers and activate with your elbow
- Use your paper towel to open bathroom doors
- Flush the toilet with your foot
- Turn on the facet with you elbow or wrist
- Try typing on any store keypads with your knuckles instead of your fingertips
“You should also avoid using your fingers and hands to touch your face. It sounds easy, but trust me, it’s not. Viruses that cause illness, like COVID-19, can enter your body through your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and get you sick,” Dr. Rosa says.
Keep Your Distance
“One term that’s become more common is social distancing. We know COVID-19, just as many other viruses including influenza, is transmitted through droplets. Droplets are tiny particles essentially put out into the world when somebody coughs or sneezes. Six feet is about the distance those droplets can travel. Social distancing is about keeping yourself as far away as possible from infectious particles,” Dr. Rosa says.
Keeping your distance also means avoiding high-fives and handshakes.
“I think people aren’t going to be offended. There are different ways you can greet someone – like an elbow bump, first bump or just a hand wave,” Dr. Rosa says.
Clean Up When You Get Home
If you haven’t heard, handwashing is the main way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Make it a habit to wash your hands right after walking in the door at home.
“It is so important to wash your hands with water and soap. Do that at least 20 seconds. Using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is also a good option,” Dr. Rosa says.
She also says she doesn’t stop at washing her hands. When she gets home, Dr. Rose immediately cleans her phone and washes with disinfectant wipes. She also changes her clothes immediately to shed any germs she’s picked up throughout the day. Remember, if you’re using your shirt or coat sleeve to avoid touching items, you’ll want to toss those things in the washing machine more often.
If you clean up when you get home, you’ll feel good about hugging the kids and touching any food without the risk of spreading germs you picked up from the day.