Over the past few weeks, news of the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus disease, has dominated media channels. It’s in your news feed, it’s in your inbox, and everyone around you is likely talking about it.

But even more newsworthy than the virus itself is what has happened in reaction to it. The stock market has fallen, entire countries are on lockdown, popular events have been canceled, and millions of children are not in school. In the US, panic over rising case counts has triggered a rush on stores, so that even toilet paper shelves are empty. The going rate for a bottle of hand sanitizer is 10X its retail price.

So take steps to protect you and your family from this virus disease by following these simple guidelines from The Brennan Group.

Clean your hands often

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick

• Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.



Stay home if you’re sick

• Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.

 

Cover coughs and sneezes

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

• Throw used tissues in the trash.

• Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

 

Wear a facemask if you are sick

• If you are sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room.

• If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

 

Clean and disinfect

• Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

• If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

 

“It is normal and understandable to feel anxious, especially if you live in a county or community that has been affected. Find out what you can do in your community and discuss how to stay safe with your workplace, school, or place of worship.”

- Gregory Hartl - Media officer. Spokesperson for Avian Influenza and other epidemic diseases. WHO/Communicable Diseases