How to Stay Healthy & Limit Your COVID Exposure

Blog | July 8th, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into a tailspin, affecting everything from education to summer vacation. However, social distancing measures are diminishing, and people are adjusting to the “new normal.” 

But as more businesses open and people head out and about, the number of people with coronavirus is rising. You can take measures to protect yourself against germs without surrounding yourself with a bubble.

Wash Your Hands

Durland Fish, PhD, a retired infectious disease epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, emphasizes the importance of basic hygiene. Wash your hands as often as you can.

The proper way to cleanse your hands is to wet them with warm water. Then, lather up for at least 20 seconds. Make sure that you spread soap on the palms and the backs of your hands. Pay attention to your fingertips and the areas between your fingers. Don’t forget to wash your thumbs and wrists. Then, rinse your hands and dry them thoroughly. 

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Wash

If you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer can kill 99.99 percent of bacteria within one minute of application. The sanitizer must contain 70 percent alcohol to be effective. If you can’t get your hands on sanitizer, you can use rubbing alcohol or a high-alcohol liquor, such as grain alcohol.

Don’t Handle Cash

There may be more microbes on your paper bills than your toilet. Plus, although many germs only stay on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours, absorbent cash could hold flu germs for a maximum of 17 days.

Use a credit card as much as possible. When you press the buttons on the credit card machine, use your pinky or a knuckle. If you have to sign for your purchase, carry your own pen. When signing on a screen, use your fingernail.

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Be Careful What You Touch

Try not to touch railings, banisters, or doorknobs, especially in public places. If you do have to handle a doorknob, use your non-dominant hand. You’re less likely to use this to touch your food or face.

Wear a Mask

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that people wear face coverings when they are around people who are not in their immediate household, and social distancing measures aren’t being taken. Masks act as a barrier against respiratory droplets. If you wear a mask or some kind of face covering, you reduce the number of microbes that can get on someone else when you talk, cough, or sneeze. 

In other words, wearing a mask prevents people with the virus from spreading it. If you know that you have the virus, though, you should avoid going out in public. However, some people may have the virus and never show symptoms. They can help limit the spread of coronavirus by wearing a mask.

The one major exception for wearing a mask is if you have a respiratory disorder that may affect your breathing. In this case, it may not be safe to wear a mask out in public. 

Take Off Your Shoes

Theoretically, COVID-19 germs can live on your shoes. However, it’s not very likely that the microbes will make it all the way home. You’d have to step on an infected droplet, and it would have to remain on your shoe as you walked everywhere else before you got home. 

Still, if you want to be cautious, you could remove your shoes when you enter a home. Health care workers or people who work in medical environments and see coronavirus patients are more likely to carry the virus home than the general public is.

Other Ways to Stay Healthy and Limit Your COVID Exposure

After a few months of more alone-ness than we’ve likely ever experienced before, many of us are craving in-person conversations and connecting with our friends, but is it safe to meet with people who don’t live with us?

The CDC says that the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to avoid face-to-face contact with others. This means that you shouldn’t have close conversations at the bar with your friends or get together with dates that don’t live with you.

But you don’t have to hole yourself up in your house if you’re healthy. If you want to gather with friends, there are ways to do so safely, such as:

  • Meeting outdoors
  • Keeping at least 6 feet of space between yourselves
  • Holding your breath and moving away if someone coughs or sneezes
  • Avoiding sharing utensils, cosmetics, cups, etc.

You should also practice self-care, such as getting enough rest, eating well, and exercising. Self-care acts like this can boost your immune system naturally so that it can fight against the virus if you are exposed. You can blend social tasks with exercise. Go for hikes with friends, or have a social distancing beach date and get some swimming in. 

Sunshine can also help you stay healthy. It helps your body make vitamin D, which is vital for your immune system. Consuming enough vitamin D during this time might not hurt either. It can help your immune system stay strong enough to combat the germs that are going around.

When Should You Self-Quarantine?

In some cases, you might want to increase your social distancing measures. For example, if you are at a high risk of contracting the virus, delegate errand-running to someone who has a lower risk. 

If you are sick, you may want to self-quarantine for at least 14 days. That is especially true if you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Although COVID-19 is scary, you can take measures to stay healthy. Paying attention to your well-being and being cautious about who you get close to are the best ways to remain safe during the pandemic.

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