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  • Sam

Wash Your Hands, Wash Your Hands,Wash Your Hands and Wash Your Hands!

  1. Pay attention to personal hygiene. Yes, we know you’ve heard all this a million times already. It bears repeating. There are a lot of things we don’t know about this virus, but we do know it spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Other individuals may be infected when they touch a surface that has virus particles on it and then touch their own mouth, nose, or eyes. Hand hygiene is the very best weapon in any fight between human and contagious disease.

    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

    • Don’t touch your face. This is a lot harder than it sounds and requires conscious effort. The average person touches their face 23 times an hour, and about half of the time, they’re touching their mouth, eyes, or nose — the mucosal surfaces that COVID-19 infects.

    • Cover coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or upper arm.

    • Stay home if you are feeling sick, and seek appropriate medical guidance.

  1. Keep surfaces clean. Among the things we don’t know about COVID-19 is how long the virus can survive outside of a human host. But we do know that the virus is susceptible to disinfectants. Here’s some cleaning tips:

    • Use the right product. According to the CDC, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective against the COVID-19 virus. See the CDC’s environmental cleaning and disinfection recommendations and this list of EPA-registered disinfectants.

    • Use the product right. First, clean dirt off of the surface. Then wipe the surface with disinfectant. Leave the surface wet with disinfectant for as many minutes as the product instructions require. This is a vital step that people often miss. It’s not enough to just wipe the surface and go.

    • Clean the right surfaces.

      • High-touch areas such as door handles, phones, remote controls, light switches, and bathroom fixtures.

      • Horizontal surfaces such as countertops, kitchen tables, desktops and other places where respiratory droplets could land.

      • AND your mobile phone! It’s filthy. Did you wash your hands and then touch that phone? Just like that, you’re re-contaminated.

  • Do not reuse disinfectant wipes on multiple surfaces. This can transfer germs from the used wipe to other surfaces. Use one wipe for each surface and then throw it out.

  • Do not dry surfaces after wiping them down. Surfaces you are disinfecting need to stay wet for the amount of time listed on the label. The contact time with the disinfectant is what actually kills the germs. 

  1.  Practice “social distancing.” Social distancing is exactly what it sounds like: keeping your distance from other people. It’s often used to describe public health measures imposed by local governments — measures like quarantining the sick, closing schools, and canceling public gatherings. And, when it’s done early enough during a pandemic illness, it’s been shown to save lives. But you don’t have to wait for the government to tell you what to do; here’s what you can do now:

    • Keep your distance. The number of people in any given location is important, but density is even more important. Respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel up to six feet and be inhaled into the lungs of people within range. Protect yourself by staying out of range.

    • Make your meetings virtual. Or postpone meetings entirely.

    • Don’t hug or shake hands. If you have to meet with someone in person, find an alternative greeting; research has shown that fist bumps —and even high fives — dramatically reduce the transfer of bacteria during greeting exchange. But feel free to experiment with other options as well. Tip your hat, wave, or offer a friendly and welcoming squirt of hand sanitizer.

    • Make a conscious effort to avoid crowds. For example, with warmer weather upon us, think about walking or riding a bike to campus instead of taking the subway or a bus. This recommendation relates both to keeping your distance and avoiding contaminated surfaces, because the more people, the more those common surfaces get touched. 

This virus will probably be with us for a while — perhaps well into the spring — so developing these habits now is a good long-term strategy for keeping our community healthy. And, don’t forget, COVID-19 is not the only germ in town. Seasonal influenza is still a concern, and even when it’s not, there’s always something going around. Good hand hygiene and proper disinfection practices are habits that never go out of season.

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