How Best to Stop the Coronavirus (Covid 19) From Spreading
With the recent explosion of the novel coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, people from every corner of Montana have begun to worry how they can prepare for an outbreak in their community. When it comes to the coronavirus, it’s best to get ahead of the illness rather than simply react to it after you’ve already been infected. Luckily, the Center for Disease Control (the CDC) has released detailed instructions on how you can minimize your chances of becoming infected. Here are the 10 best ways you can prevent an infection of the coronavirus:
#1. Wash Your Hands…Like A Lot
If you aren’t the type of person who washes your hands at every opportunity, now’s the best time to pick up the habit. According to the CDC, you should “wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds”. The best time to wash your hands is after you have visited any public place, after sneezing or coughing, or if you have had physical contact with another person or a foreign surface such as a counter or tabletop. A useful rule of thumb to remember is that you should vigorously wash your hands for as long as it takes you to sing the Happy Birthday song, roughly 20-30 seconds. Considering how the coronavirus allegedly can live on a surface for over a full week, washing your hands is the very best way to keep yourself from being infected.
#2. Avoid Strangers
Obviously, you should avoid encountering any friends or family members who are sick or showing symptoms of the illness. But you should also probably consider outright avoiding strangers altogether until the virus subsides. Granted, this advice may seem difficult if you live in a big city like Billings or Missoula. But in all honesty, you don’t know if the strangers around you are infected or not. For the time being, social distancing measures, such as maintaining 3 feet of space during conversations or replacing handshakes with footshakes, are a practical way to remain virus-free until the outbreak is contained.
#3. Buy the Industrial Size Bottle of Hand Sanitizer
If you are unable to get to a sink and a bar of soap, using hand sanitizer is an effective alternative to help sterilize your hands. When picking out hand sanitizer, though, be sure to only buy a brand with a minimum of 60% alcohol. Cover your hands completely with the sanitizer and rub them together until they are completely dry. And don’t be afraid to coat any surfaces you believe may have been infected as well. Luckily, you bought the biggest bottle of sanitizer you could find so you have sanitizer to spare.
#4. Stop Touching Your Face Already
Did you know that, on average, you likely touch your face up to 23 times on the hour every hour? Face touching is such a common practice that most people aren’t even aware they’re doing it. As you will soon find, breaking this habit is more than a little difficult. Even healthcare professionals who work in the field of epidemiology have found it nearly impossible to stop with all the face touching. However, there are a few tricks you can employ:
- Occupy your hands with a stress ball or even a rubber band
- Wear a bracelet or a ring to help remind you not to touch your face
- Break other bad habits like fingernail biting or anything to do with your nose
- Deploy the buddy system by having someone point out each time you touch your face
#5. Scrub All the Surfaces
Coronavirus can live on virtually any common surface for weeks at a time. This includes not only your body but also kitchen counters, your bathroom, on your bedding, and even in your carpet. While many people focus on cleansing their bodies, they neglect all the other surfaces the coronavirus can infect. You may not be able to clean everything in your home or office. But you can certainly focus on the more heavily-touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, desks, phones, toilets, sink faucets, and keyboards and mice. Most over-the-counter disinfectants work, but you can also dilute bleach in warm water if you prefer. A basic rule of thumb is 5 tablespoons of bleach per every gallon of water.
#6. Get Help If You Feel Ill
Now is not the time to sleep on a trip to the doctor. If you feel ill at all, you should seek out medical assistance ASAP. According to the CDC, symptoms of a coronavirus infection begin to manifest after just 2 days following exposure. Below are the relevant symptoms you should be on the lookout for:
- A persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- A fever
If you experience the above symptoms, you should follow the advice of the CDC and “restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.” You should also restrict your contact with any pets as well. While human-to-animal transmission of the coronavirus hasn’t been discovered as of yet, contagion remains in the realm of possibility. Nobody wants to see their faithful companion fall ill with the coronavirus when they could have been quarantined.
#7. Cover Your Sneezes and Your Coughs, Too
Even if you do not believe you are sick with the coronavirus, you should cover your mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze. The coronavirus thrives in saliva and nasal projectiles. So even if you are merely suffering an allergy attack, pay the favor forward by covering your face before sneezing. Your efforts could help contain an outbreak.
#8. To Face Mask or Not to Face Mask?
Real talk: You probably don’t need to wear a face mask. While the news is full of stories about price gouging on Amazon and retailers like Wal-Mart running out of face masks, you really only need a face mask if you are already sick or plan to be in close proximity to a person who is sick with the coronavirus. If you simply follow the the above steps, your chances of avoiding contracting the virus are about the same as they are if you wore a mask 24/7. If you are healthy, push aside the urge to stock up on face masks which would be better used by a medical professional or someone who is infected and needs to keep their germs under lock and key.
#9. Self-Quarantine is the Best Quarantine
If you feel ill and your job allows it, you should strongly consider self-quarantining in your home until you feel better. Coronavirus spreads most easily by direct human-to-human contact, so quarantining yourself until your immune system destroys the virus completely is the most effective way to halt the virus’ spread. If you do decide to self-quarantine, be sure to stock up on groceries, paperback novels, and toilet paper beforehand. You’re going to need it.
#10. Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3?
As of today, March of 2020, coronavirus testing kits are not readily available to the public for a variety of reasons. Hopefully, more tests will be available as the virus continues to spread across the country over the next few weeks. When they do become available, however, you should definitely get tested if you think you might have contracted the virus. Ignorance may be bliss, but not when it comes to your health and well-being. Stay safe out there, Montana.