A Guide For Avoiding Coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic has deeply impacted life. The faster we adapt, the better. Implementing systems that automatically minimize your risk of infection is key.
Once you have protective systems in place you won’t have to spend so much time and energy thinking about every move you make and every breath you take. Your systems will be watching out for you. (Sing along...)
As a scientist, I grew viruses, bacteria, and animal and human cells for research for 15 years. Sterile technique is important for preventing the contamination of these cells. I use aseptic and sterile techniques for manufacturing Bexi's products. During this pandemic these same techniques are important for protecting yourself against Covid-19, especially if, like me, you are an at-risk person.
I am sharing what I know and have implemented in the hopes that you will take and apply whatever information is relevant and necessary for your respective households to keep you and your families healthy and safe and, ultimately, to save lives.
Visualize coronavirus as glitter. Imagine glitter coming out of people’s mouths every time they speak. That’s a close approximation of how the coronavirus exits a person with Covid-19, whether or not they or you know they are positive at the time.
Assume everyone is positive for coronavirus until proven otherwise, i.e., everyone you encounter is spewing glitter.
Qualitative real-time schlieren and shadowgraph imaging of human exhaled airflows: an aid to aerosol infection control. Tang JW, et al. PLoS One. 2011. Video: JW Tang, A Nicolle (National University Hospital), J Pantelic (National University of Singapore)
Physical isolation protects you and your loved ones from coronavirus. It's ok to be in close proximity to people who live in the same house as you, because, ideally, you are all staying home and taking every precaution to not get infected if you do go out. However, if one of you is positive for coronavirus or thinks they might have been exposed, it is important that they isolate themselves as best they can as soon as possible.
Assuming that everyone is coronavirus-positive until proven otherwise, being in close proximity (less than 6 feet apart) to someone who does not live in your house substantially increases your risk of infection. If you get infected, you risk infecting everyone who lives in your house and anyone to whom you come near. While you may survive the infection, your loved ones may not.
If you do happen to meet in-person, please stay 6 feet or more apart.
Prevent infection by washing your hands properly and frequently. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, faucet handles, etc...) regularly. If you have to touch a surface that other people frequently touch (ATM/cashier key pad, gas pump, elevator button, door handle), use a gloved hand or disinfect your hands immediately after touching the surface. Alternatively, if possible, use your elbow or foot to perform the needed task, e.g., holding a door open. Remember, too, that the virus particles may stay in the air for at least 3 hours, so minimize the amount of time you spend in any public places (elevators, grocery stores, post office, etc.), especially if you are at risk.
Your goal is to come home with as few or no glitter particles on you and to keep you and your home glitter-free.Making it a game makes it more fun and relieves some of the anxiety.
Common household products destroy coronavirus. When using disinfectant wipes don't try to make the wipe last by wiping down lots of items before throwing it away. The wipe is only effective at the advertised percentage (99.9% or whatever it says on the packaging) for the surface area of the wipe itself. Its effectiveness decreases rapidly after that.
How to safely use and remove gloves. Gloves only protect you if you use them correctly and take them off correctly. If you touch glitter-covered surfaces and then touch your face or other surfaces with the same gloved hand, you've just spread the glitter, rendering gloves useless.
Set up decontamination stations and quarantine zones at the entry points to your house. Those entry points are the only points you should use to enter your house when you may have been contaminated with glitter.
Your quarantine zone should be a place other than your house or car where you can safely leave any items (groceries, mail, shoes, clothes, etc.) that may be potentially contaminated. You’re not always going to be able to decontaminate everything before you enter your house. Having a quarantine zone alleviates the pressure to decontaminate everything immediately. It can be a porch, backyard, garage, sun room, or, if you live in a 2-room apartment like me, a big cardboard box by the front door.
Your decontamination station should contain products to disinfect your hands, shoes and anything you bring in with you from outside. My station consists of disinfecting wipes, a trash can, and a spray bottle filled with soapy water.
Depending on where you've been, you might have coronavirus on your shoes or clothes. Spray the soles of your shoes with a detergent solution (or a 10% bleach solution, if you think they will withstand that) before you enter your house or just leave your shoes in your quarantine zone. Have "outside" and "inside" clothes and shoes. Change your clothes as soon as you can after coming back from your trip, or wear layers and leave the outer layers in your quarantine zone until you can launder them.
Before you step out the door, visualize everything you are going to do on your trip. This will help you prepare for what you need and identify points of contamination and assess the risk, e.g., if you normally grind coffee beans at the store, you probably want to find an alternative. This is especially helpful if you're buying groceries for at-risk people, as you can ask them about alternatives before you go shopping, thereby minimizing the time you spend in the store, handling your phone, etc.
Keep disinfecting wipes, gloves, hand sanitizer, and sealable bags for your used wipes and gloves in your car. Always use gloves when pumping gas. I use one gloved hand to touch the gas pump and key pad and the other ungloved hand to handle my credit card.
Before you go shopping set up your sterile counter and wash/decontamination station, and keep containers ready for all your goods.
Before you step out the door make sure whatever you take with you can be easily decontaminated. Make it easy on yourself. Rather than dig through your purse or wallet for your credit card and then have to remember to wipe down everything you touched, keep your credit card, coupons, reusable grocery bags, a pair of gloves, and your wipes/hand sanitizer in one easily accessible place/shopping bag. I leave my purse in the trunk of my car whenever I can.
When out shopping, I usually have one gloved hand and one ungloved hand. I use the gloved hand to handle all contaminated items and use the ungloved hand for all items I'd like to stay uncontaminated (keys, phone, credit card etc).
Handle your groceries and take out food carefully to prevent contamination.
Do not open packages over your sterile space. If you watch the video closely, Dr. VanWingmen opens packages over his sterile space. If there's glitter on those bags, it's going to fall directly onto his sterile space, rendering it contaminated.
Do things slowly and methodically to avoid slip ups. Dr. VanWingmen uses both hands to touch the potentially contaminated surfaces and sanitizes in between. It is easy to slip up that way unless you move slowly and methodically and really think about what you're doing (easier said than done). If you have two people in the house, have one person handle the potentially contaminated surfaces and one person the clean food and packaging to minimize cross-contamination.
If you use reusable grocery bags, throw them in the wash on a hot wash cycle immediately after you are done with them. If you cannot do so, leave them in your quarantine zone.
Handle mail & packages carefully. The virus lives on cardboard for roughly 24 hours. Handle your packages with gloves and leave them in your quarantine zone for more than 24 hours before opening. If you have to open a package immediately, first wipe it down or spray it down as best you can. Handle it with gloves if possible. Wipe the contents of the package down or quarantine them, if possible. Take the disinfected contents into the house and dispose of your packaging. Wash your hands thoroughly.
To calm down, exhale long and slow. All this hypervigilance can really do a number on your nervous system. Long, slow exhales calm your nervous system. Deep inhalation actually stimulates your nervous system (you do not want this).
Stay Smart; Stay Safe.