As the world grapples with the reality of COVID-19, there are numerous ways we can stay safe and healthy – and help those around us do the same. Dr. James Crowe of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Hannah Farr, a critical care nurse at Williamson Medical Center and wife of country singer Tyler Farr, have provided some useful tips on how to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Social distancing is key.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines social distancing as remaining six feet apart and avoid meeting in groups or mass gatherings. Crowe asserts that following these guidelines is the most effective method to stopping the spread of coronavirus. “If anybody’s in doubt about social distancing, that is the most powerful way to avoid getting infected,” he urges. “At an individual level, if you’re not around someone who’s infected, you won’t get infected. It’s that simple.” Farr supports this claim. Though she acknowledges that people may need to go to the grocery store or venture outside for exercise, she strongly encourages people to stay home. “Don’t go out unless absolutely necessary. That’s going to be very, very important,” she stresses. “I promise you’re safer at home than you are out in public right now.”
Monitor your symptoms.
According to the CDC, the main symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Farr says that these symptoms should be monitored at home, as mild symptoms can often be treated with Tylenol. However, if you develop severe symptoms such as breathing troubles and pain or pressure in the chest, it’s time to consult a doctor. “If your symptoms do get worse as far as you feel like you can’t breathe, you’re struggling to breathe, that’s when you would need to seek emergency attention,” she advises, adding that people need to self-quarantine if they develop symptoms. “If you do suspect you have it, most likely your family member has it. So it’s important for the family members of the same household to also quarantine if there are any symptoms of this,” she continues. “Just because one person has symptoms, the next person may not, but they could still have it, so it’s important to stay home and drink plenty of fluids, stay hydrated.”
Learn how to use protective equipment.
Crowe recommends that people follow the CDC’s protocol of wearing a cloth face covering when going into public places, but says it’s important to use them properly. “Take the time to learn and think about how to use it. It’s not magic, the point is to keep you from touching your face or getting sneezed directly on,” he explains. “The use of personal protective equipment is pretty complicated, so if you’re going to use a mask, you need to learn how to use it properly because if you get sweaty or uncomfortable and you’re touching your face more than usual, you’ll be more at risk.”
Disinfect commonly used areas.
Another effective way to kill the virus is through hand washing and sanitizing, as well as disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in your home such as doorknobs and even one’s phone. “Most people’s phones have more bacteria on it than a toilet seat, which is mind blowing,” Farr reports. “Clean your phone.”
Do your part to protect vulnerable people.
People most vulnerable to contracting coronavirus are the elderly and those who have underlying conditions such as heart and lung disease or diabetes. Though people who don’t have underlying conditions may not be concerned about contracting the virus, Crowe urges that they do their part to protect those who are more susceptible. “If you’re in a nursing home or elderly, you’re going to be more at risk than if you’re younger. It’s important that we think about the most vulnerable in the community, not just about ourselves. So if you make decisions based on your own personal perceived risk [such as] ‘I don’t care if I get infected because I probably won’t get very ill,’ you are endangering other people and that’s not a good choice,” he says. “I’m asking people to think of what’s the right thing to do for all people, especially those who are most vulnerable.”
Use quarantine as a time for self-care.
Humans are social beings, so needless to say, it’s been difficult for us to stay apart during these uncertain times. However, Crowe is adopting a positive mindset and is thankful for the extra time that has allowed him to focus on self-care, exercise and reconnecting with loved ones – healthy habits he hopes to maintain in daily life after the pandemic is over. “All of those things are collateral health benefits and I think people should consider this might become the new normal where we stay in better touch with our families and we take better care of ourselves mentally and physically,” he observes. “There’s a real opportunity to be mindful of the benefits of that and try to sustain them. I think that’s really exciting.”
Visit the CDC website for a full list of precautions updated information on COVID-19.