We can't turn on the news now without hearing about the new virus that's sweeping the world. Coronavirus, now called COVID-19, is a serious virus that came out of China. At this point the virus has spread to more than 30 countries and there have been over 2,800 deaths.
Protecting ourselves from COVID-19 is much like how we avoid the seasonal winter flu that's now in high numbers in every state. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is mostly common sense, but every step is important:
- Wash your hands frequently. Use warm water and soap and wash for a minimum of 20 seconds. Try singing "Happy Birthday" to mark the time.
- Keep your hands away from your face, even if you've just washed your hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw away the tissue.
- Disinfect surfaces in your environment frequently, such as countertops and doorknobs.
- When you go out, take a pack of antiseptic wipes to wet down grocery cart handles. If you don't have those, put hand sanitizer on your palms and wet the cart handle.
- Never share cups or plates or anything else with those who are sick.
- If you have to be out in public, keep your distance. Stay at least 6 feet away from others. For now, avoid shaking hands.
- If you feel sick, don't rush to the doctor. Call first and explain your symptoms. If they want you to come in, there might be a special entrance for you to use to keep from spreading germs to others.
Stay healthy this winter. Get enough sleep, eat well and keep your stress down. All of those affect your immune system. And if you haven't had a flu shot, get one now.