From scouting stores for toilet paper to lining up outside the supermarket at 5 in the morning, the global pandemic known as the “coronavirus” or “COVID-19” has changed our lives dramatically. Schools, businesses, dentist offices, theaters, gyms, bars and restaurants are closed to patrons. Restaurants are only allowed to deliver and offer takeout. Life, as we know it, has changed within a matter of days.
The goal of these changes, however, is what health officials call “flattening the curve,” or preventing the number of cases from spiraling out of control as it did in Italy or Iran. Such an event would be catastrophic and would severely overwhelm our hospitals, which simply don’t have enough beds or the staff to care for millions of coronavirus patients.
Here are some of the basic protective measures all of us can take to flatten that curve and prevent infections in our communities:
- Wash your hands well and often. Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based sanitizer kills viruses that may be in your hands.
- Maintain “social distancing.” It’s a phrase we’ve all learned over the last couple of weeks. Maintain at least a distance of 6 feet between yourself and anyone else. When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth, which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the virus if the person who is coughing is infected with it.
- Avoid touching your eyes nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces where these viruses can live for several hours or even days. Once contaminated, your hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or using a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then, dispose of the tissue right away. This is because droplets spread the virus. When you follow good respiratory hygiene, you protect people around you from viruses such as the cold, flu and COVID-19.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and trouble breathing, get medical attention right away. Follow the directions of your health provider. When you call in advance, your provider will be able to direct you to the right facility. This will protect you and help prevent the spread of the virus to others.
- Stay informed. You need to know the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow the advice given by your healthcare provider. National and local authorities will have the most updated information on whether the coronavirus is spreading in your area. They will be able to best advise you regarding what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.
Please be safe and keep your family safe. For more information, visit the Orange County Health Care Agency’s website: