As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, we are reminded repeatedly of what preventative measures to take. Social isolation, holding a 6-foot distance from others, and proper handwashing to name a few. However, like many I know, I have also wondered about other preventative measures to take in the new way of living we are all experiencing. Below are some tips that I have found helpful while isolating at home.
- Can the virus spread on paper or cardboard?
Many of us are using Amazon and Instacart as well as other delivery services for groceries and items to avoid in-person visits. We know the virus can spread through physical contact and through mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose), but what about other surfaces? The length of time the virus stays on surfaces does vary, however, the risk is of obtaining COVID-19 through commercial goods or packages is low, per the CDC.
- Can my pet transmit COVID-19 to me?
You may have heard the recent news of the Tiger at the Bronx Zoo testing positive for COVID-19. The tiger showed symptoms consistent with the virus. Animals and our domestic friends have been an important topic at hand as it relates to the virus. Many want to know if animals can transmit the virus to humans and vice versa. As it stands now, these reports and studies have concluded that animals can contract the virus from humans, however, it does not appear that humans can contract the virus from animals.
- What do I do if I don’t have an N-95 mask?
N95 Face masks are nearly impossible to find and if you do find them, it’s possible they are counterfeit. The N95 masks filter 95% of airborne particles. It is important to note that the masks are mainly to help persons wearing the masks to not transmit their germs to others. The importance of the mask diminishes once touched and should be removed and replaced with a new mask. Healthcare workers need these masks and are most knowledgeable on how to appropriately and safely wear them. Let’s leave the N95 masks for them and make our own. Below is a great video recently posted by the Surgeon General on how to make a face mask at home. A good rule of thumb is to make sure the fabric blocks out the sunlight from coming through. If you do reuse your mask, fold it inwards to prevent the outside from touching other surfaces and place it in a sealable bag.
Link to Video:
- My disinfecting supplies are running low. What should I do?
Groceries stores are limited in supplies, especially disinfecting products. Fully in the throes of the virus, personal supplies of disinfectant wipes and products will be running low. The EPA has a great website on other products to use as household disinfectants. Click Here. You can also dilute household bleach as an alternative!
- Is drinking tap water safe?
As it stands now, yes. Per the CDC website, the virus has not been found in drinking water and should not be of concern at this time.
- Can the virus spread through produce I purchase?
COVID-19 is a virus causing respiratory illness. To date, there is no evidence suggesting the virus can be transmitted through food and food packaging. While we know that the virus can remain on surfaces and be transmitted, this is not believed to be the reason of the main factor of the virus spreading. Once the virus is airborne and is on a surface rather than a person, the percentage of the virus being transmitted from that surface diminishes greatly and becomes harder to be transmitted the longer it is in the environment. The FDA (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration) gives facts on the virus and how it relates to production. The website can be found here https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/food-safety-and-availability-during-coronavirus-pandemic.
- Which sources are the most reliable on information regarding COVID-19?
There are many websites, blogs, press releases, etc. sharing information on COVID-19. I am inundated with information and have often questioned which facts are true and which are opinions. Regarding general information on the virus, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website is the best. However, the World Health Organization is reliable also. They have just implemented an alert system to bring the public facts on COVID-19. Check it out here https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/who-health-alert-brings-covid-19-facts-to-billions-via-whatsapp. Regarding your specific county and state interpretation of the virus, regulations, policies, and safety measures, it is best to go to the Department of Health. The Maryland Department of Health website and information resources can be found here https://health.maryland.gov.