This is my take on the attitudes and actions that are prudent now and for the coming months of widespread contagion. First, adhere to the guidelines of the CDC.
If you interact with people who are over 50, or those who have compromised immune systems these measures are critically important to protect them. For most younger people the odds of serious infection are lower, but for less robust people the illness can be fatal in 12% of the cases.
Here is a personal strategy practiced by a physician I know. Caregivers are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 than most of us, so they have given this a lot of thought. The essence of the strategy is to avoid bringing the virus home with them by measures taken in addition to the practices in the video. They simply assume that their clothing, shoes, and exposed skin may carry and shed the virus. Here’s what they do to keep their living space as “clean” as possible.
- When getting into the car, sanitize your hands, door handles, buttons, control levers, and steering wheel before driving.
- Upon arriving home, leave shoes at the door. Remove outer clothes and put them in the clothes dryer for 15 minutes at high temperature. Shower.
- Assume that anything you bring home carries the virus. Wash produce, disinfect or discard outer packages before storing items, wash the tote you carried them in. Then sanitize the counter where you were working. Wash your hands again.
The central idea here is to make it difficult for the virus to find its way to your face and hands once you are home. But don’t stop there. Know that one can be infected and not have any of the symptoms, or have such mild symptoms we don’t know we are ill and shedding the virus.
To keep your living space clean, wash down the surfaces you touch most often. Most household cleaners work because soap destroys the virus’s envelope. Wipe off door handles and surfaces you touch to open or close them. Likewise sanitize light switches, drawer handles, sink fixtures, bathroom fixtures, countertops, and so on. Do this often enough to minimize the chance that one family member can transfer the virus to another by casual contact with surfaces. Change washcloths and hand towels often.
Think over your routines about the house and add to this list as appropriate. Every precaution you take reduces the odds of getting ill.
To infect you, the virus must be transferred to a mucus membrane. Your mouth, nose, and eyes are the most likely entry points. So keeping your face virus-free is key. Work to break the habit of rubbing an eye, itching your nose, resting your head in your hands, or licking your finger.
Keep your distance from others. Even seemingly well people may be shedding virus in aerosol droplets as they exhale, sneeze or cough. COVID-19 is contagious before symptoms manifest.
Washing your hands often throughout the day will help prevent the transfer to your face when you do forget and touch. Cleaning your environment will reduce transfer to your hands. By taking these measures you erect a series of obstacles to the virus and improve your odds of staying well.