All these tips come from local and national health organizations.
[Updated March 13, 2020with more videos from objective doctors calmly reminding you to take care of yourself so you don’t SPREAD the virus, not panic, not hoard things that those less fortunate might need, what will likely happen if you do get infected, and how to address the virus with your kids.
And I’ve also added a section about wearing masks.
Updated March 21, 2020 with an infographic about social distancing, and what activities are appropriate and not.
Updated March 25, 2020: I got rid of the section about wearing masks because I think medical professionals who tell us to not wear masks are being selfish as masks can work for the regular person.
I’ll continue updating this post with new useful information as I come across it.]
As with almost everything in modern American society, COVID-19, or the novel Coronavirus, has been politicized to oblivion. (No worries, I won’t add to that craziness.) From claims that nonsensically blame President Trump for its spread, to semi narrow-minded claims that it’s no big deal, to alarmist claims that it represents the end of civilization and the imminent decline of all humans, this new virus has seemingly turned the world upside down.
Schools are closed. Restaurants are empty. Toilet paper, bottled water, and hand sanitizer are almost impossible to find in stores. Small businesses have seen a reduction in their regular clienteles. Big events are canceled. (Smart) Companies are mandating their employees work from home full-time. Many people aren’t going anywhere. Flights from certain countries are canceled, while other countries quarantine travelers arriving from other countries.
Those are just a few of the ways that governments and individuals are dealing with the virus. They all hope to help prevent (or, at the very least, reduce) its spread for everyone’s sake.
If there’s just ONE good thing to come out of all this, is the rise in the frequency of better hygiene practices. Seriously. As bad as the media’s making it all out to be (because sensationalism and fatalism sells, didn’t you know?), at least they’re raising awareness to the many common-sense things WE can do to play our part in helping ourselves and others.
Not to toot our own horns, but I’m proud to say that we’ve already been doing many of the recommended health suggestions for years. Mostly because, again, they’re common sense. But also because good hygiene keeps us sane… and clean.
What we’ve been doing.
Do you ever see someone wiping down every surface on and near their seat on an airplane? That’s us. Before I touch anything, I’ll take out my disinfectant wipes and “attack” everything we might come into contact with.
Do you wash your hands after getting home from a public place? We do. Who knows what in the world we could’ve come into contact with, and the best way to prevent it from getting to other parts of our body is by washing our hands.
Do you ever wash your clothes after seeing the doctor? Not very many people do this, but I do! I’ll put them in our hamper, ready to be tackled on the next laundry day. Sometimes I’ll even shower immediately after getting home from the doctor–regardless of whether it was a mere clinic visit or I wasn’t the patient.
How about disinfecting surfaces after a contractor or a visitor leaves your home? This one we weren’t doing in the past but you bet we started recently! And if they shake our hands, off to the sink we run immediately (after they leave) to wash them.
Have you heard of someone who washes their hands after petting their pets? That’s us, too. Especially if we’re about to eat.
Or how about washing some foods (say, fruits, vegetables) with soap before cooking/eating them? Yep, guilty here as well.
So those are a few of the ways we’re taking care of ourselves. (And no, we’re not hoarding toilet paper, etc.) We’re especially more careful now in light of a new stage our family’s entered and that I’ll talk more about later.
But the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING we’re doing is… keeping our cool.
You see, stress (be the kind brought on by following the alarmist media, upcoming exams, or future events and milestones, etc.) significantly diminishes the strength of your immune system. A weakened immune system practically lets everything bad in.
This is why although we take pride in our good hygiene, we don’t let the news sidetrack us from what’s important. We don’t go to gatherings with dozens-hundreds of people (incl. Costco), not only because various governments recommend it, but also because we know their hysteria and germs will get to us. It helps that we’re homebodies and we don’t mind ordering what we need online.
So we’re not panicking, and you shouldn’t either. Because panicking makes everything worse. Talk to or learn from doctors but try avoiding those with massive followings (who’d be benefiting from increased and worried audiences). And live more cleanly.
Which brings me to my next section.
What else you can do, according to the experts
For now, I want to share the many other tips organizations have shared to help protect yourself and your family from the spread of COVID-19.
Six daily habits to help prevent the spread of many viruses
- Physical contact: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Keep your hands clean: Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Have a cough or cold? Cough or sneeze INTO YOUR ELBOW.
- Clean surfaces: Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Feeling sick? STAY HOME when you’re sick and keep sick children home from school, etc.
- Oh, and call your doctor BEFORE seeing them: You don’t want to overwhelm your medical facilities.
Five steps to proper hand washing
- Wet your hands with clean running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap. Although the diagram shows wither warm or cold water is OK, we’ve found (an heard from doctors) that cold and lukewarm/room-temperature water is best because frequent hand-washing with warm/hot water can more quickly dry your hands, which can also make them crack and bleed, which can then let in more infections.
- Lather your hands all over: Between the fingers, the palms, the backs, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. This is equivalent to how long it takes you to sing Happy Birthday at normal speed TWICE, pray one Hail Mary, OR sing one of the Backstreet Boys verses below at normal speed. (Keep the tap closed during this step!)
- Rinse your hands well under the running water.
- Dry your hands well with a clean towel. The diagram indicates air drying is OK, but for years we’ve heard air dryers only help spread more germs, so I’d avoid those.
Additional measures you can and should take: (These come from a local government preparedness task force, which also shared many of the tips I included above.)
- Practice social distancing to reduce the potential spreading of the virus. Don’t shake hands or touch others, especially if they’re sick.
- We recommend and encourage residents to opt out of attending large mass gatherings. If you don’t NEED to go somewhere and they haven’t canceled that event, just don’t go.
If I’m Catholic, what are my options regarding Coronavirus?
(If you’re not Catholic, feel free to skip this section.)
You’d be surprised at how MANY Catholics I’ve seen who are so sad and dismayed at the possibility of not being able to share germs at Mass.
These people are nutty, to be honest. And they’re missing the point.
Take this tweet from just last week:
For those keeping score back home…
Evening Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica
Holy Water 🚫
Sign of Peace 🚫
Communion on the Tongue 🚫
It was surreal to have the priest announce from the Altar of the Chair that communion on the tongue was forbidden at Saint Peter’s Basilica.
— The Catholic Traveler (@MountainButorac) March 6, 2020
I replied then that there’s no reason to panic or lose your cool over those measures. In fact, I think those who MUST practice them when they’re NOT NECESSARY are off their rockers:
- We haven’t touched the petri dish that is known as the Holy Water in years. Can you imagine whose fingers have also touched it? (And no, God doesn’t just magically make everything inside his churches germ-free.)
- We haven’t touched other people during the Sign of Peace in years, either. In fact, whenever someone turns around to greet us, we just vow, and we never turn to whoever is behind us or next to us. We just look straight ahead.
- We haven’t taken Communion on the Tongue probably since we were kids. Who’d want one’s tongue to touch hands that have also touched other people and things? I do always try to sit at the front where I know I’ll be first or second (after a relative) to receive Communion, but still: The Host goes on my hand, thank you very much.
- Lastly, though this wasn’t in his tweet, we also never touch anyone else’s hands during the Our Father. This is not prohibited, per se, but it’s something that smart priests don’t like, because it’s not for the congregation to touch hands or lift them up during the second part, as I’ve seen some ignorant and show-offy attendees do.
Here’s an infographic listing the kinds of activities that are OK and the ones that are prohibited for practicing social distancing:
Here are some neat recent videos on the matter from doctors I’ve been following for a while and whom I think you’ll also like:
(The one above also mainly goes into how much the MEDIA is profiting from all this. Her previous title and thumbnail addressed this specifically, so I’m surprised she’s since changed both to reflect a more Youtube-friendly perspective.)
And on this video, Dr. Arnold addresses how to talk with your kids about the virus.
Lastly, don’t panic!
This is a timely article with ten objective reasons why you ought not to panic about Coronavirus that I thought should reassure you in that the world isn’t ending. It’s not itself from a health organization, but it does contain information these organizations have shared with the public so I found its conclusions to be calm and rational.
Having said all that, I do hope you’re all using common sense to NOT spread the virus (or the flu that’s also been going around!) and that hopefully you learned a tip or two to get even better at fighting this thing.
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How are YOU staying safe and preventing the spread of the virus? What do you think about all the panic going around? Share your comments below!