If you’re anxious about the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., keep these tips in mind.

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There’s lots of coverage on the news about coronavirus and whether it will turn into a pandemic. At the present time, there is no widespread outbreak in the U.S., but that may change in the future. Concern about this virus leaves many Americans wondering if there is anything they can do to protect themselves and their families from getting sick.

Here are some tips to help you avoid contacting coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands. Frequent hand washing is one of the most effective ways to avoid getting coronavirus, or illnesses such as colds and flu. During the SARS epidemic, hand-washing was shown to reduce the risk of transmission by 30-50%. Using soap and water is the best way to keep hands germ-free. Lather up and wash hands for at least 20 seconds, or about the time it takes to sing the ABC song twice. Then rinse hands well with clean running water and dry. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, although this is not as effective as hand-washing.
  • Keep hands away from your face. Your hands touch many surfaces all day long and even if you wash them often, you can still wind up with viruses and bacteria on your hands. When you touch your mouth, nose or eyes, it makes it easier for the germs on your hands to enter your body and make you sick.
  • Avoid sick people. It is believed that COVID-19 spreads by coming in contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person. Droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel up to six feet away. If you see anyone coughing or with other visible signs of illness (whether you suspect coronavirus or not), stay as far away as you can.

“Do not go to school/work/church/public places if you have a fever or feel ill! Please, I beg of you parents, if your child has a temperature of 100.4°F or higher, do not give them medicine to treat the fever, and then send them on their way to daycare or school. A good rule of thumb is that you need to be fever-free for 24-hours (without using fever-reducing medications) before going back to school/daycare/work.”

Mindy L. Calandro, MD, FAAP, Pediatric Medicine

  • Don’t get caught up in the hype. It’s important to stay vigilant and pay attention to trusted information about coronavirus, but it’s not time to panic. For example, the CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks by the public but people are buying out supplies. Also, keep in mind that most people who get coronavirus do not die. And it’s much more likely that you’ll get the flu than coronavirus – millions of people get the flu each year.
  • Have a plan. As of now, there’s no talk of quarantines or major disruptions to businesses, schools or public transportation. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future. To help ease your anxiety, you can start planning now for potential disruptions an outbreak may cause. For example, you may want to stock up on water, nonperishable food, household and pet supplies, as well as medications. Being prepared is always a good thing, but there’s no reason to panic.

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