Expert advice on how to protect your home and family from coronavirus.
During the coronavirus outbreak, normal life seems like a distant memory. As the number of those infected rises, life becomes scarier and more difficult. Schools are closed, grocery shelves are stripped, and many of us are hunkered down at home.
So here is the question: How do we maintain our health at home during this very scary time?
This goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. We don’t want to get the COVID-19 virus, and we don’t want to spread it.
Making sure we don’t get or spread coronavirus begins with understanding. We need to acknowledge what we know—and what we don’t know—about this very contagious virus.
PLEASE NOTE: Advice that we share in this article comes from recognized experts and organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It does NOT come from Facebook, Quora, various Web sites, politicians, or our friends. This is no time for unqualified advice.
So let’s start with the facts.
First and foremost: As the CDC points out, COVID-19 is a new disease. Scientists and medical professionals are still learning about this virus and how it spreads. Every week, their understanding grows. We will cover what we know now.
Coronavirus travels primarily through tiny respiratory droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets are thought to travel from one person to another through touching an infected person or by contacting surfaces that have been touched (or sneezed or coughed on) by an infected person.
Our bodies’ entry points for receiving the virus are likely to be the nose, mouth, and eyes. Do don’t touch your face if you’ve been in contact with anyone who may have the virus.
It is currently believed that the droplets might be inhaled if they’ve become airborne when a nearby person infected with the virus has coughed or sneezed.
This video below is by Dr. David Price of Cornell Hospital, one of the premier hospitals in New York City that is dealing with COVID-19. The video is long, and Dr. Price looks like he has been up way too many nights with patients on ventilators. But he offers comprehensive, helpful information with the intent of helping people protect themselves and, armed with this knowledge, feel less scared.
In case you don’t have time to watch the video, his main points are:
- According to the evidence they’re seeing, you get this disease by “sustained contact with someone who has this disease…or someone who is about to get the disease.” He later defines “sustained contact” as more than 15 minutes in an unprotected environment.
- You get this through “the transmission of the virus almost exclusively from your hands to your face.” (Your eyes, nose, or mouth.) He says, “The overwhelming majority of people are getting this by physically touching someone who has this disease or will develop it in the next one to two days and then touching their face.” [Note: Touching an object such as a grocery cart or a door knob that has been touched by someone with the virus on their hands may also transfer the virus.]
Three strategies offered by Dr. Price to protect yourself from getting the virus:
- Always know where your hands are, and keep them clean with hand sanitizer. Carry hand sanitizer. If you touch anything in public with your hands, clean them with sanitizer immediately.
- Start to learn to not touch your face. A really good way to do that is to wear a mask when you leave your house.
- Stay 3 to 6 feet away from people.
Recommendations are everywhere. One of the best sources of recommendations to prevent the spread of coronavirus in a non-healthcare setting such as a home is the CDC.
If you go to the page at the link above, be sure to note when this article was last updated. If it isn’t current, follow the latest, up-to-date recommendations, generally available through trustworthy daily news.
Also check the World Health Organization (WHO) for recommendations.
Here are a few basic current recommendations:
• Unless you are a medical professional or an informed caregiver (see below), avoid being near someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who is coughing or sneezing.
• Stay home if you’re sick and call your doctor. In fact, during a major outbreak, it’s best to stay home even if you’re not sick.
• Avoid coming closer than 6 feet to others. They could be carrying the virus even if they appear healthy.
• Because your nose, mouth, and eyes are the entry points, avoid touching your face.
• Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, and then discard the tissue where it won’t be handled by others.
• Periodically clean surfaces and frequently-used objects such as countertops and doorknobs that could transfer the virus. More about this below.
Wash your hands often. Use soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. Soap kills the virus. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands.
Using a household cleaning spray or wipe, clean surfaces and objects that are commonly touched, such as countertops, doorknobs, light switches, faucets, bathroom fixtures, telephones, computer keyboards, and tables. Clean them every day. Be sure to clean any surfaces that may have bodily fluids, blood, or stool, on them.
Choose approved disinfectant cleaners, such as those on this of EPA-approved cleaning products list.
As you can see, the list includes disinfecting products from Clorox, Lysol, Purell, and similar companies.
Follow all label directions and precautions for safe and effective use of these products. Wear gloves and make sure the area is ventilated during cleaning.
When doing your laundry, wash thoroughly with normal laundry detergent and dry using the warmest temperature settings recommended on the clothing labels.
Be sure to immediately remove and wash any clothes or bedding that may have bodily fluids, blood, or stool on them. Don’t touch soiled items—wear disposable gloves. Immediately after removing gloves, wash your hands.
What should family members and caregivers do to safely care for a coronavirus patient at home? As the number of COVID-19 home patients escalates, the answers to this question become critically important.
If a person has symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, those who live or work in the same house are at serious risk of contracting or spreading the virus unless the necessary precautions are taken.
For this reason, it is imperative that you seek the latest information regarding safe care.
Please consult with your doctor and local medical authorities.
Because science is still trying to understand this virus, recommendations are in flux.
But you’ll find basic interim guidance from the CDC on this page:
This is for people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, including persons under investigation who don’t need hospitalization and who can receive home care, or people with confirmed COVID-19 who were hospitalized and released to home care.
According to the CDC, an outbreak in your community could last for a long time. For this reason, it pays to have a household plan ready.
Talk with family members, friends, and neighbors to assess everyone’s needs in the event of an outbreak. At this time, it is best to talk by phone to avoid exposure.
Consider special preparations for seniors and people with underlying conditions who could be most vulnerable to serious repercussions of the disease.
Prepare a list of local organizations you can contact for information, health care services, and support.
Update your household’s list of emergency contacts. This should include family, friends, healthcare providers, neighbors, and other helpful resources.
Coronavirus has disrupted the world as we knew it. However, if we all work together by following basic guidelines, we can protect our families, defeat this virus, and move forward with a clearer understanding of how to prepare for future challenges.