Keep Safe from COVID-19 with Careful Home Cleaning and Disinfecting Strategies

With all of the news about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be worried about how to keep your home safe from the virus.

There is still much we don’t know about how the virus is transmitted, or how long it remains infectious on surfaces or in the air. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a number of cleaning tips for limiting the virus’s survival in your immediate surroundings.

To clean and disinfect most effectively, you need to use a two-step cleaning process when you’re dealing with a virus like COVID-19.

Clean

Step one is to remove germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Clean in your usual manner, using soap and water on highly touched surfaces. Wear disposable gloves during the cleaning process. Discard the gloves after cleaning. Continue reading

The Facts on Testing for COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, try calling your state or local health department or a healthcare provider. Supplies of tests are increasing, but it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested, depending on where you live.

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after being exposed to COVID-19. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Facts about COVID-19 tests

You may be tested using the diagnostic test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you receive a negative result, that means that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. However, if you are in the early stages of infection, the virus may not be detected in your sample. If that is the case, you can still spread the virus to others, even if you do not have symptoms.

If you have symptoms but test negative for COVID-19, it is likely that COVID-19 is not causing your current illness.

The process and locations for testing vary from place to place. Contact your state, local, tribal, or territorial department of health for more information, or reach out to a healthcare professional. (State and local public health departments have received tests from the CDC while healthcare providers are getting tests developed by commercial manufacturers.)

Beware of scam testing

Some companies are marketing fraudulent test kits that claim to test for COVID-19 in the home. At this time, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not authorized ANY home tests for COVID-19. The FDA is actively and aggressively monitoring for any companies that may be selling products with false COVID-19 diagnostic, prevention, and treatment claims. Continue reading

Coping with COVID-19: Managing Stress and Anxiety

It’s hard to escape news updates about coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The constant headlines may make some people anxious. In particular, older adults, people with chronic health conditions, and caregivers are likely to be at higher risk for increased stress and anxiety, since they face a higher risk of illness if they contract the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here’s what stress during an infectious disease outbreak can look like:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

You may not be able to control the virus, but you can help control your emotional reaction to it. Here are some smart strategies from the CDC to help you manage your anxiety: Continue reading

12 Ways to Ease Isolation While You’re Practicing Social Distancing

To avoid the coronavirus, public health experts are advising people of all ages to stay home and practice social distancing as much as possible. This is particularly true for older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.

Those actions will go a long way to helping limit the spread of the virus and its impact on our health as well as on our health care systems, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But social distancing and staying home may put some at greater risk for the unintended consequence of social isolation, a health concern that can be avoided or reduced with proper, proactive steps.

According to the National Institute on Aging, social isolation and loneliness are linked to higher risks for a variety of health problems. These include high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.

“Social isolation is very harmful to your health and contributes to poor health outcomes, especially for older adults,” says Laurie Theeke, PhD, a nursing professor at West Virginia University and a nurse practitioner at WVU Medicine, in Morgantown, West Virginia.

These steps can help you stay connected with others and prevent loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading

How to Practice Social Distancing

Headlines and news reports are devoted to covering coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). It’s easy to become overwhelmed and frightened, especially if you’re an older adult or have a chronic medical condition. For people in this group, the virus can be life-threatening or even fatal.

The current guidance for staying inside our homes may seem like an extreme overreaction. You may not know anyone who has actually caught the virus. Perhaps it hasn’t affected your community yet. However, public health experts such as the Centers for Disease Control say “social distancing” is essential for our personal and the public’s health. Social distancing means strictly limiting our contact with the outside world and keeping about six feet apart from other people. In fact, social distancing is the most effective action we can take to curb this potentially deadly virus.

Public health experts who have studied social distancing tell us that it works better to curb the spread of COVID-19 than even strictly enforcing quarantines. (This graphic simulation published by the Washington Post shows how well social distancing can work against the spread of an imagined virus).

“Every single reduction in the number of contacts you have each day with relatives, friends, co-workers, in school, will have a significant impact on the ability of the virus to spread in the population,” said Dr. Gerardo Chowell, chair of population health sciences at Georgia State University, to the New York Times.

Practices that can minimize the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Practice social distancing
  • Avoid taking public transportation or making non-essential trips
  • Work from home if possible
  • Avoid social gatherings
  • Don’t patronize bars, restaurants, or movie theaters or visit places where people gather

When you must make essential trips, such as to the grocery store, pharmacy, or other public spaces:

  • Use a disinfectant wipe to cleanse anything you touch or use a tissue/napkin as a barrier
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and don’t touch your face
  • Most importantly, wash your hands vigorously and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing “happy birthday” twice) as soon as you return home

How long will this last? We don’t know right now. But practicing good habits such as social distancing and careful hygiene will play a role in how well we manage to slow the spread of the virus.

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