The spread of COVID-19 has many of us thinking about ways to stop the spread of germs and stay germ-free. Our infectious disease expert, Dr. Rossana Rosa, shares five of her top tips for how to protect yourself from coronavirus COVID-19, or any virus, really, as communities begin to reopen.
Change Your Shopping Routine
“Adjust your strategy. Try to identify times of the day when there are less people shopping. Try to change your routine to avoid large groups of people,” Dr. Rosa says.
Regardless of when you go to the store, make sure you wear a cloth face cover or mask. It’ll help protect you and others when you aren’t able to maintain social distancing.
“Remember, a person might have COVID-19 and not yet be showing symptoms. It’s a good idea to wear a face mask even if you feel perfectly healthy,” Dr. Rosa says.
Another idea – use the pickup or delivery option at a store. Consider writing your last name on a piece of paper and putting it in the window to limit contact even more.
If you do head out shopping, think about how you’ll pay. Money is full of germs, since it’s been passed from person to person. If you can’t avoid using cash, keep hand sanitizer around to use immediately after touching it. Same thing goes for using keypads – sanitize your hands right after. If you do use a credit card, consider wiping it down 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
- Turn on the faucet with your 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.
Avoid Close Contact
“One term that’s become very common is social or physical 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, sneezes or even talks. 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.
Stay Outdoors, if Possible
If you choose to start seeing people or going places again, try to focus on doing things that are outdoors. Gathering outside means much less risk as closed, indoor spaces facilitate transmission much easier.
Try gathering with friends in a green space outside your home that allows for physical distancing. If you want to go out to a restaurant, aim for businesses with outdoor seating and tables appropriately spaced.
“We all have to do the due diligence to call ahead and ask the important questions like, ‘Are employees wearing a mask or shield?’ And, ‘If there’s a waiting line, are you making sure people maintain distance?’” Dr. Rosa says.
As always, make sure to bring a mask should you need to use the bathroom or get stuck in a situation where maintaining physical distance isn’t possible.
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 with soap and water right after walking in the door at home.
“It is so important to wash your hands with water and soap. Do that for at least 20 seconds. Using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is also a good option,” Dr. Rosa says.
She also says don’t stop there. When Dr. Rosa gets home, she immediately cleans her phone with disinfectant wipes. She also changes her clothes 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. If you have been wearing your cloth face mask, it should get a good cleaning in the washing machine, too.
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.