Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…Help to Prevent Getting Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, the new strain of coronavirus is in all the news.  Any advice on how to prevent getting this illness, for which there currently is no vaccine?

A:  As of last Sunday, newscasters reported that there are over 80,000 cases of COVID-19 in 60 different countries around the world, and nearly 3,000 people have died from it.

Last night’s update reported that there were only 91 known cases in the USA, ranging from no symptoms to mild symptoms, to severe illness requiring hospitalization. Six death had been reported between California and Washington State.  Travel restrictions have been implemented to try to prevent further spread of contagion.  Countries with far more cases of the Coronavirus, like Italy, have advised anyone over age 65 to avoid being in crowds, since older people – especially those with other health issues – have been hardest hit.

National and local health officials have offered the same preventative advice that they do for the more common flu:

  • WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY – Use soap and water for Pic of person washing their hands with soap and water20 seconds – that’s about how long it takes  to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” TWICE – or take along hand sanitizer if you will not have easy access to water.
  • COUGH OR SNEEZE CAREFULLY into your elbow (or into a tissue that you dispose of immediately, and then wash your hands…again).
  • AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE, nose, or eyes with unwashed hands.  And shaking hands may be a thing of the past, at least for now.
  • KEEP YOUR DISTANCE – Since transmission between people is most often by sneezing or coughing, which can spray 3-6 feet, try to keep 6 feet away from others when possible.  Some American corporations have begun canceling conferences.  Some people are choosing to avoid non-essential air travel.
  • IF YOU ARE ILL, STAY HOME (PLEASE!) – Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing.  For the sake of yourself and others, if you begin feeling ill, stay at home until at least 24 hours after the fever has ended.  Testing gradually is becoming more widely available; your doctor can decide if you should be tested.  Call ahead before visiting a medical facility to describe your symptoms, in case you need to be isolated from other patients.

Most of these suggestions are good practices even in times with no threat of a pandemic.  Health officials say that they are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.