You know how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19: Wash your hands. Cover your cough and sneeze. Wear a mask. Stay at least six feet apart. But when you head out into the community, whether it’s for work or the grocery store, how do you protect yourself?
Wear a Mask
Remember that the virus enters through your nose, mouth and eyes, said Chris Lombardozzi, MD, chief medical officer for Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.
Keeping your mouth and nose covered with a mask while out in the community will help protect you and others.
“Cloth masks are perfectly fine for the community,” Dr. Lombardozzi said. “If you are in a relatively dense public location, put a mask on. If you are at home with your family, you don’t need to wear a mask.”
Keep Your Hands (and Surfaces) Clean
“Cleaning your hands and frequently touched surfaces is a good rule of thumb to prevent any illness, from COVID-19 to the common cold,” said Raymond Romano, DO, with Medical Group of the Carolinas – Family Medicine – Five Forks.
When you come home from shopping or being out in the community, be sure to wash your hands.
“Properly wash your hands frequently. Especially after using the restroom and before eating,” Dr. Romano said. “Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and wash thoroughly.”
Then, at home and in the office, clean frequently touched surfaces.
“How often do you disinfect items you touch often? This includes your keys, cellphone, or work and home keyboard. Clean these often,” Dr. Romano said.
Dr. Romano said not touching your face is also important. Hopefully wearing masks has helped train people not to touch their faces so frequently.
Kathy Bryant, infection prevention manager for Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, said to wash your hands before and after going out, such as to church or the grocery store.
“Keep disinfectant wipes in your car, and especially wipe down surfaces that are touched often, like your steering wheel, radio dials, door handles and gear shift,” Bryant said.
Do You Need Gloves?
Wearing gloves often gives people a false sense of security, Bryant said.
“Gloves are really not very helpful, other than in a healthcare setting. What ends up happening is that you touch a lot of surfaces, and everything you touch is now contaminated because the gloves are not clean,” Bryant said.
Instead of wearing gloves, Bryant recommends washing your hands frequently and using hand sanitizer.
Staying Apart (While Sick and Healthy)
If someone in your home is sick, separate them from the rest of the family as best you can, Bryant said.
But even when not sick, you need to stay apart from others — six feet apart or more.
Remember to practice social distancing at your job – where possible.
“At the workplace, social distancing is still very important,” Bryant said. “You want to keep as much distance between yourself and your coworkers as possible.”
Combined with a proper diet and exercise – and for smokers, kicking the habit – these steps will help guard against many types of infections.
“All of these things will help you stay well and avoid illnesses of all sorts, from the common cold to the flu to coronavirus,” Bryant said.
How’s Your Handwashing Technique?
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown from Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Infection Preventionist Marilyn Hellebuyck, RN, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
- Use enough soap to cover your hands.
- Rub your palms together.
- Interlace your fingers palm to palm several times.
- Lay your right palm over the top of your left hand and interlace, then vice versa.
- Use the back of your fingers on opposing palms, with fingers interlocked.
- Wrap your hand around your thumb and rub, then switch thumbs and repeat.
- Rub clasped fingertips into your palm; repeat with your other hand.
- Rub your wrists one last time.
- Rinse with water; dry with a single-use towel.
For the latest news on COVID-19, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV.
Written by Spartanburg Regional’s Discover Health blog.