From Kathy Biala, retired nurse and Board Member

The most important aspect of the spread of the Coronavirus is constant hand and surface sanitizing, physical distance from other people AND not getting the virus into your body through your nose, mouth and eyes! Remember that there are plenty of germs everywhere all the time, but the virus has to somehow get INTO your body in order to cause illness.

Take-out Food from Restaurants

The local health department seems to be doing a great job visiting our local restaurants open for take-out and educating about sanitation practices. As a retired nurse, I have always been diligent about infection control practices. On our side as consumers, the NIH says the virus can live up to 3 days on inanimate surfaces.

  • Treat money as a surface that can pass on the virus from one person to another.
  • Please wear gloves or sanitize your hands after every time you touch bills or coins.
  • When you get take-outs, even when the restaurants are separating handling of takeout containers from handling of money, just be safe by transferring food to your own home bowls and plates, then take off gloves or sanitize your hands and toss the takeout containers. Sanitize the surface on which you laid take-out containers/bags. This way, those eating the food will not be touching takeout containers or bags.
  • Cooked food does not appear to be a source for the virus.
    If you buy groceries and can store non-perishables untouched for 3 days in your garage, this also can help.

Here’s some more ways to disinfect when hand sanitizers are not available:

  • If you have isopropyl alcohol, put in a spray bottle and spray on your hands, rub, and keep your hands closed to keep the wetness in for 30 seconds to kill the virus (don’t try to wave your hands to dry).
  • Use cleaners for SURFACES (not for hands) that say 99.9% germs
  • Make your own disinfectant on SURFACES using CDC bleach guidelines: 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.

Homemade and N-95 masks

I was asked to comment on whether to make homemade masks and so I want to share my response. Though a mask made from a coffee filter and other ideas of “home-made” masks have been shown on YouTube sites, here are some thoughts I have, as I have consulted other reliable sources.

First, if you are trying to PROTECT YOURSELF from the virus, a cloth/paper mask will not be enough to prevent entry to your nasal passages if someone, for example, sneezes or coughs in close proximity of you. So, the wearing of the mask may give people a false sense of protection. The N-95 mask and hard plastic shields used in conjunction with face masks (you see on TV shots of healthcare workers) will likely provide that level of confidence to protect oneself from contagion.

If you are wearing the mask to PROTECT OTHERS, a homemade mask will likely reduce some infected droplets from spraying out onto others if YOU sneeze or cough but the virus could leak out around the mask. Also, if the fabric gets wet with your saliva, rebreathing this in and a build- up in the mask might actually create a bigger problem for you. And perhaps the most important reason for wearing a mask, is that it will help remind you from touching your face thus not allowing the virus into your body to cause infection!

Masks for the general public may be a good thing to protect everyone else around you and if everyone did this, we could all be safer!

Kathy Biala, retired nurse and Board Member

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