Now that COVID-19 has been in the United States for several months, dominating local, national and international headlines, it’s easy to feel like coronavirus news is everywhere.
But it’s important not to let your guard down. The situation is still ever-evolving. You want to be just as safe and diligent as you were right when cases started spreading.
Let’s get back to the basics, shall we?
Here’s a quick reminder on how we can all stay safe and healthy during this global pandemic, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How to best protect yourself and others
Know how the virus spreads.
Although a vaccine is in progress, there’s nothing currently approved or able to prevent COVID-19.
So the best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, the CDC says -- and that means people who are in close contact with one another. We want to avoid respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms, some recent studies have suggested.
Wash your hands.
And of course, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, the CDC recommends. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. Don’t put a covering on anyone younger than age 2, health authorities have said -- or anyone who struggles to breathe. These coverings aren’t a substitute for social distancing; you still have to maintain that 6 feet of separation. This is an additional safety measure.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. Most common EPA-registered household disinfect will work, the CDC said.
What to do if you’re sick
Here’s what the CDC says:
Right atop the group’s homepage on what to do, it says, “If you have a fever or cough, you might have COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your health care provider immediately. Also keep track of your symptoms -- and if you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), get medical attention right away.”
Your next goal, beyond getting better and your health condition improving, is to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
So, how will you do that?
- Stay home except to get medical care. Get rest, stay hydrated and avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
- Separate yourself from other people and pets in your home. As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from others. Use a separate bathroom if you can.
- Monitor your symptoms. Follow care instructions from your health care provider and local health department. Your local health authorities may provide instructions on checking your symptoms and reporting information.
- Call ahead before visiting your doctor. You might be able to snag a telehealth appointment, or if you must go in, this will help the office protect itself and other patients.
- If you’re sick, wear a cloth covering over your nose and mouth. This goes for people who aren’t sick as well, like if you need to grocery shop or visit another public area. Medical grade face masks, by the way, are reserved for health care workers and some first responders.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes; wash your hands often. Use soap and water, if possible, and wash for at least 20 seconds, health officials advise. This is especially important after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- Avoid sharing personal household items. And wash your items thoroughly.
- Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday. High-touch surfaces include phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables.
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