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Advice from a doctor: Coronavirus do's and don'ts

With all that information out there about COVID-19 coronavirus, we can’t help but feel overwhelmed about what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

DENVER — Here are some do's and don'ts from our 9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli that you can do to protect yourself today from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

DO's

1. Do wear a cloth covering on your face at all times when you are not at home. A tighter-fitting covering with rubber bands around your ears or ribbons/strings you can tie are best. This is meant more to protect OTHERS from your droplets rather than to protect you from others. The fit and the material of the covering are important (tight-fitting, pillowcase or tea towel material) and be careful about touching your face more with the mask as this could increase your risk. Don’t stop social distancing because of a false sense of security as this is still important to protect YOU.

2. Do wash your hands before you wear your mask. Only touch the ear loops.

3. Do stay informed of the situation as events and advisories are rapidly evolving. Credible resources include the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

4. Do practice good hand hygiene and wash your hands frequently, especially before you eat, after you use the restroom, blow your nose or cough or before you touch your face. Good hand hygiene includes washing your hands for more than 20 seconds (sing “I will Survive”), including in between your fingers and under your nails and using plenty of soap and warm water. If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with more than 60% alcohol.

5. Do cover your cough or sneeze. The best way to cough or sneeze is into your elbow and not your hands.

6. Do work from home. Do leave your home only for essential reasons, such as buying food or medications. If you have to go out, protect yourself and your family members from close contact (stay more than 6-8 feet away). Don’t share water or utensils with family members.

7. Do cancel elective dental, medical, recreational and non-essential appointments as these can interfere with social distancing.

8. Do move away from others who cough or sneeze.

9. Do wipe down all surfaces you come into contact with. Any regular bleach-containing household product is likely to be effective. You can also make a cleaning solution with 5 tablespoons of bleach mixed with one gallon of water.

10. Do begin buying a 60-90 day supply of supplies and drugs. The purpose of doing this is not because we are going to “run out” of things, but because we want to avoid going to a crowded public place.

11. Do buy a 4-week supply of food and household products and cleaning products in case we are in a situation where social isolation or quarantine is necessary.

12. Do call ahead to the doctor/emergency room before you head there if you think you may have symptoms concerning for COVID-19. You should also wear a face mask to protect others.

13. Do wear a face mask and gloves if you are caring for a family someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

14. Do be mindful of what you surfaces you are touching and how frequently you are touching your face.

15. Do protect your immune system by getting your vaccinations, eating a balanced diet, avoiding too much alcohol, getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy weight. If you may be vitamin-deficient, you can consider supplementation of Vitamin C at normal daily doses. High dose IV doses have not been established to be safe or effective.

16. Do participate in "social distancing" to blunt the spread of the virus. Lets NOT be social – the virus doesn’t spread itself… people spread it! Now is the time to stay home to “flatten that curve."

17. Do remember to wipe your phone with disinfectant wipes or 70% isopropyl alcohol as it touches your hands and your face often.

18. Do remember that the virus may live on surfaces like cash or credit cards. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling cash or credit cards before touching your face.

19. Do wipe down doorknobs, countertops, stairway railings and light switches in your home once every 2-3 days. For kids, Do wipe down their toys or wash them in soap and water. Same is true for packages. To be safe, wash your hands after you handle a package. Virus particles can survive for days on hard (non-porous) surfaces so it is important to keep these clean.

20. Do help out a neighbor who may be in need, is elderly, or has chronic medical problems and can’t go out to stock up on their own.

21. Do realize that take-out food may be slightly higher risk than eating at home, but how much excess risk remains uncertain. If someone who prepares your food is infected with COVID-19 virus, your food or food utensils/containers may get contaminated.

22. Do go outside and get regular exercise but remember to wear that cloth face covering! Exercise can even help to boost the immune system. Even though we are social distancing, it doesn’t mean we can’t get out of the house. But, when you go out, make sure you continue to maintain social distancing (of 6-8 feet), don’t jog or exercise directly behind someone else and don’t touch public surfaces like park benches or railing as they not be regularly cleaned. Also, don’t go to crowded places like Wash Park, City Park or Cheesman Park. Try to use more isolated trails or walk in your neighborhood.

23. Do stay home and take Tylenol, cough syrup and plenty of rest if you think you may have COVID-19. You should also isolate yourself from your other family members, and use a designated bathroom in the house that no one else is using. If your symptoms are mild and can be managed at home, you are unlikely to get a COVID-19 test based on current guidelines in Colorado and it reduces your risk if you avoid going to the doctor. If you have shortness of breath, or are in a high-risk group or have progressive symptoms, call your doctor’s office right away.

24. Do look for red flags, like shortness of breath, fever >102F and worsening symptoms. Do seek medical care if you develop any of these symptoms at any time.

25. Do self-quarantine for 14 days if you come into contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus.

DON'Ts

1. Don’t just tie a scarf around your face as that can be loose fitting and need more adjustment. Use a cloth covering that is more tight-fitting.

2. Don't panic – It is not a ‘panic-demic’ but Don’t take this lightly either, especially if you are healthy! Emotional contagion is the spread of fear or panic and is more contagious than the virus itself. Yes, this is serious stuff. Yes, this will impact our way of life for some time. Most of us (81%) who get it will get a mild case or mild respiratory illness, just like the flu. However, even young people can have fatal complications of the disease. And, if the 20% who end up in the hospital all get sick at the same time, we will overwhelm the medical system and some who may have been okay may not be able to get care. So, it is time for EVERYONE to take this seriously and participate in “social distancing” together. If we don’t, it isn’t going to work!

3. Don't travel within the United States or abroad.

4. Don't touch your eyes, nose, mouth or face without washing your hands.

5. Don't put your shoes on surfaces you may touch. We know that the coronavirus can sustain itself on surfaces, but don’t yet know how long. Since we don’t typically sanitize the bottom of our shoes, we should try to avoid contact of shoes with jackets, scarves, purses, pens or other surfaces we commonly touch.

6. Don’t interact with your pets if you think you may have symptoms concerning for COVID-19.

7. Don’t treat “social distancing” like a “vacation”. This is not the time to run errands or go to the mountains. It is important to stay home and stay away from others for this to work. Do talk to your teenage/adolescent kids about it.

8. Don’t plan “play dates” for your kids if they are not in school. The reason schools are closed is because of “social distancing” and getting a number of kids and parents together defeats that purpose by increasing contact.

9. Don’t share utensils or drinking glasses with others, including family members.

10. Don't shake hands or give hugs as greetings. Use an alternative greeting that maintains 6-8 feet of distance.

11. Don’t visit your older relatives or community members, as they are the highest risk group.

12. Don’t go to public places like gyms, theaters, restaurants.

13. Don’t call for testing if you don’t have symptoms as testing is not recommended by CDC and the White House Task Force if you don't have symptoms.

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