The coronavirus pandemic is a serious threat to seniors, people with compromised immune systems, and those with certain underlying medical conditions. Even younger and otherwise healthy people can fall dangerously ill. Deaths from the virus in the US are around 3,000 as of this writing, and they’re projected to possibly top 100,000. The number of infected people is rising exponentially, and will continue to do so for at least several more weeks, and possibly longer.
Regardless of our concern about our own welfare, we all share responsibility for helping slow the disease’s spread and protecting the most at-risk people in our community. COVID-19 is much more contagious than other viruses because there is no vaccine, and it’s a brand new strain that nobody’s immune system has ever seen and developed any natural resistance or antibodies to.
So, for the sake of you, your family and friends, your neighbors, your community, and beyond, please use the following advice for reducing your risk of catching the COVID-19 virus. Some of them may seem a little paranoid, but these are extraordinary circumstances with the potential to cause a lot of suffering and death, so we need to take extraordinary precautions.
And for more information, visit the CDC’s page on COVID-19.
How to Protect Yourself Against COVID-19
- Stay home and isolated from anyone who doesn’t live with you as much as possible. This is the single most important thing for us all to do right now.
- You can have the virus and be able to infect others for weeks without having any symptoms. That means it’s not OK to go out and be around others because you feel fine. And it’s not safe to be around someone else just because they don’t feel or seem sick.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with. This is crucial for reducing your risk of catching the COVID-19 virus (and spreading it) because it makes it much less likely people will transfer infectious droplets to each other through the air.
- Limit your trips to the grocery store by stocking up more than usual when you do go. Here are some low-cost healthy foods to buy.
- Wash your hands frequently throughout the day for 20 seconds using warm water and soap. This is especially important after you’ve been in public, around other people, or handling any items that have been handled by other people.
- Do not touch your face before washing your hands in any of the above situations.
- Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol while you’re out and haven’t had a chance to wash your hands yet. Apply it liberally and let it air dry.
- If you have latex or other disposable gloves, wear them when you go to the store and throw them out when you leave.
- Spray your keys, wallet, and purse with a disinfectant and wipe them down with paper towels (or use sterilizing wipes) after going to the store. Wash your hands afterwards.
- Spray the packaging of groceries, toiletries, and other store items down with a disinfectant and wipe them off with a paper towel (or use sterilizing wipes) as soon as you bring them home. Or, if you can transfer items out of their packaging that was handled by other people, do that right away and throw out the packaging. Wash your hands when you’re done, then wash any produce with warm water and hand or dish soap for 20 seconds. Wash your hands again at the end.
- Wait at least a few hours after mail and packages have been delivered to bring them in, as this provides time for the virus to break down and probably die off. But still, dispose of the envelopes, boxes, or other packaging and wash your hands.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces in your home often with a disinfectant. This includes things like doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, toilet handles, faucet knobs/handles, fridge and freezer handles, cabinet knobs/handles, oven and stove knobs, microwave handle and buttons, remotes, keyboards, phones, etc. Remember to sanitize the doorknobs, light switches, and other surfaces you touch in between coming home and washing your hands.
- Remember to sneeze and cough into your elbow or a tissue to help prevent infecting others. Throw used tissues out right away and wash or sanitize your hands.