Updated: Mar 5, 2020
The new corona virus 2019 also called (COVID-19) that originated in China is spreading to other countries and throughout the United States. This new virus is a very serious public health crisis. This year’s flu virus is also a serious health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) weekly influenza surveillance report, 125 children and 188 adults have died from the flu from February 16 through February 22, 2020 (CDC, 2020).
I have been in the public health field for 15 years and feel compelled to provide some meaningful information that can help families stay healthy. So, what makes a person an expert in any field? An expert is someone who has worked in their profession for more than 10 years and has demonstrated a high level of knowledge and expertise in their field (Bourne et al., 2014). Being vigilant about washing your hands with warm water and soap is one of the most important steps you can take to keep yourself and your family safe from the flu and the Corona viruses. In addition, keeping your hands away from your face, nose, eyes, and mouth are also extremely important because these areas are entry points for germs to enter into your body through mucous membranes.
Take action now to protect yourself and your family from getting sick by following the recommendations provided below.
Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds! Especially, if you have been touching items where hundreds or thousands of folks have also been touching. Specifically, wash your hands after touching doorknobs, grocery carts, handcarts, door handles, metro rail handles, and airport seat handles. If you eat on an airplane, always use a disinfectant wipe to clean the pull-down tray. You should also use a hand wipe when soap and water is not available, to wipe germs away from your hands prior to eating.
Use a paper towel to open the door when leaving a public bathroom, to avoid recontamination of your hands.
When you return home from a shopping trip, always wash your hands prior to touching cabinets and your fridge.
To avoid getting sick, keep your hands away from your face, eyes, and nose. If you have young kids, now is the time to teach them how to practice keeping their hands out of their mouths and away from their face.
Keep baby toys clean that may go with your kids to a day care facility. Be sure your day care provider does not allow toys to be shared with other children.
If you are sick from a cold or a flu, stay home and do not go to work. Seriously, stay home!
Contact your primary care physician (PCP) to discuss your symptoms. In some cases, your PCP can send a prescription to your local pharmacy, which can prevent you from coming into their office and possibly spreading the flu or a cold to them or their staff members.
Be proactive and check to see if your PCP or specialist offers video or online medical visits (for non-urgent medical issues only) for providing care to you or your family members. Staying away from places where people are sick is important.
If you have a persistent cough or sneeze, you should cough and sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue. Dispose used tissues in a trashcan or trash bag. Do not allow used tissues to rest on any of your hard surfaces or bedding.
Keep your home and work surfaces clean and use a disinfectant that can kill germs. You can use a spray bottle and 90 to 100% alcohol to kill surface germs. Remember, your cell phone is a prime target for germs. Be extra vigilant about cleaning your cell phone at least twice a day. Also, avoid handing your phone to others for a selfie during this high-risk time.
There are so many unknown facts about the corona virus that must be resolved by researchers, epidemiologists and public health professionals. I highly recommend that you stay abreast of where new cases are reported for the flu and Corona virus. I have provided links below to the top public health sites for monitoring public health outbreaks.
Bourne, L. E., Jr, Kole, J. A., & Healy, A. F. (2014). Expertise: Defined, described, explained. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 186. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00186
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020). Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
Disclosure: (I am a writer and editor for the National Institutes of Health. Information contained in this blog post are not associated with my role at NIH).
Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)