As phased reopening begins in some areas, and while others remain having to strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines, it’s all the more important to maintain protective measures. While guidelines may be relaxing in terms of businesses opening and the growing number allowed in group gatherings, one must remember that this relaxation means that some are going to skip the phases all together and jump toward the rash conclusion that the worst of COVID-19 is past us. This couldn’t be further from the truth; rather, as some forgo health guidelines altogether, it puts everyone at risk. Therefore, we’re here to provide some extra tips on protecting you and your loved ones’ health throughout all the phases.
Wear your mask whenever you’re in public!
While this first tip may seem painfully obvious, being out and about in areas that are beginning to relax coronavirus restrictions makes it clear that its obviousness doesn’t carry the same import with everyone. While out, you may notice some wearing a mask underneath their nose, below their chin, or just not donning one altogether. Masks work by preventing the spread of respiratory droplets, which is how the virus propagates. Since 45-50% of people infected with coronavirus are asymptomatic (don’t present symptoms of the illness and therefore don’t even know they have it), it’s of paramount importance that everyone wears a mask as a preventative measure. Remember, for your mask to be effective, it must cover BOTH your nose and mouth, and they’re 99% effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 when used at distances of six feet or more. And, they prevent you from touching your face, which keeps germs confined to your hands, which you’re hopefully washing hyper-frequently.
Wipe it down!
These and hand sanitizer are your new go-to car accessories. Keep these in the behind the seat pocket or center console and don’t be afraid to wipe down any drinks or snacks you buy, and use hand sanitizer each time you get back into your car after running errands. Also, don't forget to wipe down any packages your groceries come in to get rid of any germs that may have been deposited by a cashier or stocker’s gloves, or other shoppers. Other important surfaces to wipe down are those of the high touch variety, especially phone screens, keyboards, doorknobs, drawer and cabinet handles, and faucets. AS for other groceries like fruits and veggies, make a food-safe disinfecting spray by mixing 1 cup vinegar, 4 cups water, and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Then don’t forget to rinse them off before you eat!
Love your gloves!
Because touching things is most likely how you’re picking up the majority of germs if you’re social distancing and wearing a mask religiously, they, too, qualify as a high-touch surface and are the main culprit in spreading nasties around. Adding a disposable layer between your skin and the rest of the world is a great way to protect yourself. Most effective are nitrile gloves, which are made of a synthetic rubber that is water, grease, and oilproof, as well as chemically resistant, the last of which marks them as more effective than Latex or vinyl gloves. They also have a higher puncture resistance.
Lather, Rinse, and Repeat!
Even if you’re wearing gloves, though, one of the most important weapons in your arsenal when it comes to protecting your health is the most basic: washing your hands. Even if you’re hand sanitizing each time you go out and about, it’s still important to wash your hands as soon as you get home, before you start touching anything. The classic combo of antibacterial soap and water is your best plan of attack; since the coronavirus itself has a water-permeable membrane, using antibacterial soap and H2O means that the water breaks down the virus’s defenses while the soap kills off 99.9% of germs. Furthermore, hand sanitizer may not be able to cut through lipids or grease, and it isn’t as effective as removing physical grime like dirt. Hand washing is only as effective as your technique, though, and proper hand washing has never been more crucial. First, wet your hands with clean, running water, preferably warm. Dispense soap by pumping with your elbow and work it into a sudsy lather by rubbing your hands together. Make sure to get the entirety of your hand, including the backs, thumbs, between fingers, and under fingernails, and wash up past your wrist. Make sure to scrub them for at least twenty seconds -- try singing “Happy Birthday” twice through, or another favorite nursery rhyme song. Rinse off the suds under more clean, running water. Lastly, dry them with a clean towel or let them air dry. Remember to always wash your hands before, after, and during food preparation, before eating, before and after caring for or interacting with a sick person, before and after performing first aid, after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and after handling animals or garbage. Keep in mind, something as simple as clean hands saves lives.