How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a virus from the common cold family. However, the human body has never seen this virus before. There is a possibility that it may have emerged from an animal and then made its way to the human body for the first time. With that being said, doctors are in a unique position to empower people right now. In other words, they can learn more about this unfamiliar disease and inform others about it. Physicians are working towards educating the general population and encouraging them not be scared. Additionally, they are providing tips to protect you and your family and communicating the necessary precautions one should take if infected with the virus.

Many individuals are curious as to what COVID-19 actually looks. The main symptoms that accompany this disease are fevers, coughs and sore throats. Although this virus affects the entire body, the most affected area is the lungs, which in turn creates a cough. 80% of the population that contracts Coronavirus typically experiences a feeling of un-wellness and headaches. The disease lasts anywhere from 5 to 14 days. In some instances, individuals will experience a milder case, in which they begin to feel better approaching day 5. Others will have it worse and will start to get short of breath around day 3-5, not beginning to feel better until day 7.

Understanding how the virus is contracted is very important and is the key to preventing yourself and your family from getting sick. The overarching theme for getting Coronavirus is having sustained contact with someone who has the virus. There has been speculation about it being air-borne. However, only long-sustained contact (15-30 minutes) inside of a closed room without a mask could put you in the position of contracting COVID-19. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. So, if someone near you has contracted COVID-19, sanitation of your home or work area, washing your hands, and avoiding direct contact, are your best defense. To put it simply, physically touching a person with the virus and then touching your face is the biggest risk.

Practical tips on how to protect yourself and the people around you:

1. Become a hand Nazi. Know where your hands are and make sure that they are clean at all times. Keep hand sanitizer (Purrel) on your person when you leave your house or your apartment. It is important to apply Purell after you come in contact with doors or other people.
2. Start psychologically working with the connect between your hands and your face. No one is aware of the amount of times their hands come into contact with their face. The key to avoid touching your face is utilizing masks. A mask is not going to protect you from contracting COVID-19, but rather serves as a reminder.
3. It is beneficial to understand that medical masks or n95 masks are not necessary for the general population. Again, the mask is not preventing the disease, but training individuals to become mindful.
4. Keeping your distance is a vital part in lessening the curve during this pandemic. Try to maintain a 3-6 feet distance from others.
5. Shrink your social circle. Every person that you come into contact with is likely to also have 2-3 other contacts. Select your isolation group and set boundaries. With that being said, it is not necessary to be wary of the mail man or the individual delivery food to your house. As long as one follows the recommended rules, these people aren’t going to harm you or your family.

Frequently asked questions regarding Coronavirus:

1. What do you do if you get this disease?
Throughout the world, the main way COVID-19 is transmitted is from family member to family member. Although this may sound alarming, it can also be empowering if you listen to the rules. In the case of you or someone you know developing a fever, ensure that they isolate themselves as much as humanly possible. It would be important for this individual to have a separate room as well as a separate bathroom. The person who is infected is advised to wear a mask, especially in the case that they encounter family. Regardless of how badly you or someone else desires to care for that individual, it is key to avoid sustained contact. Currently, the CDC says that once you have recovered and begin to feel better, you may put on a mask and attend work and see others.

2. What do I do if I have a mild cold?
In this case, it is important to take the necessary precautions for about 1-2 days, as if you have contracted COVID-19. If you do start to feel better at this time, you don’t have the disease and can practice normal self-distancing.

3. Are there individuals who are more vulnerable than others?
A 95-year-old grandmother or someone who has recently undergone chemotherapy can be more vulnerable to contracting Coronavirus. Due to the chance that someone in their family has the disease, they should not come in contact with them at any given time.

4. When should you go to the hospital?
It is time to visit a hospital once you become short of breath. Even if an individual is experiencing a fever or body aches, it is not necessary to go to the emergency room. Most people are being sent home during this time. So, you shouldn’t go to the hospital just because you have COVID-19 or believe you may have it. You can obtain testing at any of these testing sites: Click here. Of the entire population infected with COVID-19, only about 10% need to go to the hospital because they are short of breath. Of those 10%, just 1-3% are admitted to the ICU to be placed on a ventilator. The vast majority of those individuals recover and come off the breathing assistance 7-10 days later.

5. Should I get tested if I think I have the disease?
No, it is not entirely necessary to get tested. If you have symptoms like the flu, it’s likely that you do have the Coronavirus. In places where virus testing is not abundant, a test result is not going to change your situation and one should just take the mandatory steps. If you have a clear access to testing in your community, it may be favorable to know whether or not you actually have the virus.

6. How does this affect infants and newborns?
Physicians do not think that the virus is vertically transmitted or in other worlds, directly from the mother to the fetus. But rather, it is transferred after birth through contact. Almost no COVID-19 cases are present in people between the ages of 0-14 years old.

7. Is the virus air borne or droplet?
The vast majority of COVID-19 transmissions are droplet, meaning that the virus is most often contracted from contact between the hands and face. Sanitize your hands and common surfaces often.

8. Are medical masks necessary?
The only time that hospitals are using n95 masks are when the doctor or nurses are doing something that makes the patient spit up, such as suctioning them or disrupting them in some way. These procedures, otherwise known as aerosolizing procedures, are cases in which n95 masks are vital. 80% of the time, health care professionals dealing with COVID-19 patients will wear a simple surgical mask. The people that are getting sick are health care providers that are spending an extensive amount of time with these sick patients and are not taking the precautions.

9. Is it safe to go on a run or a walk?
Yes, go outside and follow the rules. Purell your hands when you touch things and don’t touch your face while in public. During this time, it would also be a good idea to wear a mask as a reminder to keep your hands away from your face.

10. Does a bandanna work as a mask?
Yes, the primary purpose of a mask is a reminder and a bandanna will serve the same purpose.

11. If I don’t have Purell, are there any other suggestions?
Any type of disinfectant will suffice in the case of not having any hand sanitizer. Other actions one can take are using your elbow or shoulder to open doors.

12. Is a long car ride safe?
Yes, as long as no one in the car is infected with COVID-19, you can drive forever.

13. Is it necessary to wipe down things like groceries?
Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. However, if you are in a high-risk category – it certainly cannot hurt. It is always a good idea to request the delivery man to leave the food on the doorstep to avoid additional contact. Also, it would be beneficial to wear gloves when transporting the food inside.

14. Is it irresponsible to go to Starbucks during this time?
Although the best option in this situation would be to make your coffee at home, it is still okay to visit Starbucks. As long as you and the Starbucks barista can safety interact, then getting coffee outside your home should not be an issue.

15. Should you put your clothes in the wash when you get home?
No, this is not necessary. If, however, you are a health care provider working with sick individuals all day, the answer would be yes.

16. How long should I wait before going to the doctor?
Wait until you are short of breath. Also, it is important to be aware of telemedicine services. Doctors are available to take your call and can give you advice over the phone.

17. Is there an emerging understanding or hypothesis contributing to why certain younger patients in the 30-50s have been having an acute respiratory course compared to their peers? Are they truly healthy or do they have comorbidities?
COVID effects people of all ages. In some more recent statistics, a heavier population of people 30 to 50 have been affected. This may be because they are the caregivers and active workforce, having more contact with the general public. Even people with 0 medical problems have contracted the disease. A common myth is the fact that only older individuals can get it. There is no conclusive evidence as to why younger people are getting sick. The best advice is to follow the rules for the best chance at avoiding the virus altogether.

18. What are the symptoms? Is it okay to use ibuprofen?
The major symptoms are body aches, sore throat, and a fever. They are not using ibuprofen in hospitals anymore. Ibuprofen has resulted in worse outcomes and greater inflammation. The better alternative would be to use Tylenol.

19. Are hospitals accepting homemade masks?
It would be of greater benefit for the general population to use homemade masks and to save the medical masks for medical providers.

20. How long until there is a vaccine? Do we anticipate 2nd and 3rd waves?
Social distancing could last anywhere from several months to a year. The key is to flatten the curve and to bring down the amount of cases. The problem is that people may become relaxed once the numbers have lessened, which introduces laziness. Ultimately, this could result in a second small spike.

21. Are people becoming immune after they recover?
Yes, the people that are currently rebounding just haven’t fully recovered and may experience minor symptoms for weeks. They haven’t relapsed but they are slowly healing from the virus.

22. Should you wait until you have other symptoms besides shortness of breath in order to go to the hospital?
No, shortness of breath is enough, and you should go to the hospital.

23. Does Purell mess with the PH balance on your skin?
No, it does not. You can experience dry skin after repeated use, but it is completely fine.

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