The World Health Organization labeled COVID-19 (Coronavirus) a pandemic on March 11. On March 31, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed nearly 3,800 Georgians testing positive for the virus and 108 confirmed deaths.
“While this disease is wreaking havoc on the way we do things, it is not insurmountable to keep oneself safe,” Samples said. “It is important to remember that sanitation is the key to protection against infection. This includes not only washing hands, but sanitizing surfaces and items that a person may come in contact with, share or be touched by others, thus possibly being contaminated,” the FVSU professor said.
Here are some facts and suggestions for reducing the spread of COVID-19:
- The disease may live for several days on surfaces from droplets caused by coughing or sneezing and can spread rapidly through contact. Refrain from rubbing eyes, nose or mouth after touching surfaces to avoid self- contamination. Encourage children to refrain from thumb sucking, nail biting and other habits where the virus can enter the body through oral or nasal passages. Get in the habit of washing hands for at least 20 seconds several times daily.
- Sanitize all surfaces frequently or at least twice a day. Do not rely on them to “look dirty” before cleaning. This includes areas in the home such as doorknobs, refrigerator door handles, bathroom and kitchen towel bars, kitchen tables and tabletops. Cell phones, appliance knobs, computer keyboards and mouse units, house phones, remote control units and other devices used should be sanitized with Lysol, Clorox or any other disinfectant containing at least 70 percent alcohol as recommended by the CDC. Practice effective cleansing of areas of the car such as door handles, radio and other control knobs, steering wheels and gear shifts. Wear impervious gloves when handling public items like gas pump handles, mailbox lids, and store door handles.
- Use simple practices to combat the disease. This includes sneezing or coughing in a tissue or crook of an elbow, keep a safe distance while in line, refrain from talking to people and frequently washing hands in warm soap and water for 20 seconds. Help children to use the proper handwashing time by telling them to sing the “Happy Birthday” song.
- Hand sanitizers are great to have, but do not exclusively rely on them because they are not a substitute for good hand washing techniques.
- While shopping in grocery stores, use any available sanitation station. Wipe down the handle of shopping carts before using them, and carry a pocket-sized dispenser of sanitizer or disinfectant for personal use. To practice social distancing when shopping, elect one person in the home to go shopping once a week for everything you need. Refrain from “quick trips” several times a day or week. Instead, make a list and venture out once weekly or less if you can.
Samples said there are many ways to curtail the spread of Coronavirus, but the most effective may be social distancing. This includes practices such as working from home and limiting trips to public areas including grocery stores and pharmacies.
“If you must go out, leave as early as you can and as close to the opening hour of business as possible. By shopping early, you will most likely be in a cleaner environment than if you shop later in the day. Many establishments are closing their doors early in order to have several hours to sanitize their stores to lessen the spread of the virus,” Samples said.
For other items, Samples suggests shopping-online as much as possible and avoid places such as nail salons and beauty shops to avoid close contact with other people. Also, check in with physicians about upcoming appointments, and make sure the office is open. “Many are rescheduling elective visits and those considered simply ‘checkup’ visits. Also, call in prescriptions to avoid overrunning the office,” Samples said.
For more information about Coronavirus, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.
FVSU Agricultural Communications Department