Don’t touch that!

Dr. Warren Wong

Dr. Warren

 

In one month, COVID-19 has changed our lives and normal behavior isn’t normal anymore. Please be extra careful.

I recently noticed a woman at the grocery store who was practicing safe distancing and wearing a mask. She went up the escalator and used the escalator handrail as she went up. The handrail was wiped down frequently.

But imagine if coronavirus had landed on the handrail at some point in the previous 30 minutes. Imagine if, over the next hour, she rubbed her eyes and adjusted her mask. The virus ended up in her eye and on her face.

After she got home, she took off the mask and washed her hands. Corona virus ended up on her face because she took the mask off before washing her hands. Over the next couple of days, she felt fine and continued to take care of an older person. Then, she and the older person both quickly became ill.

Normal behavior is not normal anymore and we have to remember not to touch surfaces that are touched frequently by many people. These include:

  • Handrails on stairs and escalators and poles to hold on to on the bus.
  • Buttons such as elevator buttons.
  • Any public keypad or touchscreen, such as those on the ATM machine or credit card reader.
  • Any surface that you touch with your hand when you open a door in a public place
  • Grocery carts and shopping baskets
  • Public faucets and toilet handles
  • Gasoline pumps

The list also includes two items that only you usually touch, your cellphone and keys. If you have corona virus on your hand, then touch your cellphone, later wash your hands, then touch your phone again, the virus can end up back on your hand. Clean your cellphone regularly with a disinfectant wipe or alcohol spray.

If you cannot avoid touching things other people touch, use a sanitizing gel or disinfecting wipe after touching. If you don’t have either of these, wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you can.  Even if the virus has landed on your skin, it will not make you sick if you wash it off quickly.

One more thing you can do is wear gloves. I use fabric gloves when I’m at the grocery store. When I return home, I wash them with soap and water. Disposable gloves are meant to be used once. They are not meant to be washed and can contaminate your skin if worn repeatedly or inside out.

Overall, it is very important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Wash them before putting on and/or taking off a mask.  And get in the habit of also washing your face at least twice daily. Our tendency to touch our faces is a difficult habit to break—I see health experts doing this while being interviewed on TV.

If you are a caregiver, don’t forget to wash the face of the person you care for too. First, wash your hands, then wash the hands of the other person then wash the person’s face. Use clean fresh towels or paper towels to dry off.

It can seem overwhelming. But if we are extra careful, we will be able to overcome COVID-19 sooner!!

 

Warmest Aloha,

Dr. Warren

P.S. I’m here to support you. Be connected, stay strong.

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