March 3, 2020in Doctor Resource

Nine common sense ways to stay healthier in a COVID-19 outbreak

People catch coronaviruses from one another the same way they catch a cold or the flu. As March begins, we doctors are still seeing Influenza A (Flu A) in the community, at the same time that COVID-19 coronavirus is spreading here. Springtime allergies usually start about now, plus the common cold and strep throat infections are always around. Anyone with eye, ear, nose, throat, or cough symptoms can have one or more of: Flu A, common cold, strep throat, pollen allergies, COVID-19 coronavirus.

You and your friends or family are safer from germs if you…

1. Stay at least 6 feet from the next person

  • People who interact with a lot of other people are more likely to catch viruses, as well as household members of people who meet a lot of people.
  • Healthcare workers (and their household members) are more likely to catch viruses.

2. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, a big tissue, or your mask (instead of into the air)

3. Wear a face mask if you or people around you have symptoms

  • A face mask should be comfortable, or you'll be less likely to keep it on. N95 masks filter out more of the smallest particles but are less comfortable to wear. Life is about balance.
  • Face masks work by blocking many of the airborne particles, by constantly reminding you to think about health safety, and by acting as your sleeve when you cough or sneeze (so you don't have to look for your sleeve to sneeze into).

4. Use a paper towel to open the door when leaving a shared bathroom

  • Don't touch any part of a shared bathroom on your way out, after you finished washing your hands.

5. Avoid places where sick people go to get help or buy medications

  • People get medical care at clinics and hospitals.
  • Sick people buy medications not only at pharmacies but also at grocery stores and department stores that sell over-the-counter drugs.

6. Work from home when you are not feeling well, or do home schooling if you’re a student

  • Stay home if having cold symptoms, flu symptoms, allergy symptoms, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fevers and body aches.
  • Viral symptoms and pollen allergy symptoms can be similar, and both conditions can happen together as a coincidence.

7. Use serving utensils if you share food

  • Avoid sharing with other people the food or drink that you've eaten from.

8. Eat well-cooked foods

  • Many viruses, such as coronaviruses, do not survive usual cooking temperatures

9. Use your own cloth face towel or hand towel when at home. Don't share towels.

To read more on COVID-19 transmission:

Robert Kwok

Robert Kwok

Robert Kwok, MD, Director of Health Informatics at HealthTap, is a board-certified physician who practiced medicine for 27 years. He earned his MD and pediatrics credentials at Baylor College of Medicine. Before HealthTap, he practiced clinical pediatrics in Northern California, most recently with Stanford Medicine.