How do we handle the world? – Everyday practices for COVID prevention

COVID-19 update

I am writing this for our Emergency operations staff in the call center and for people delivering food in the community from the grocery store as well as all of us trying to find out how to live in this newly dangerous world.

1. Assume most COVID transmission happens by direct close contact with someone with COVID-19. It is a matter of probability. What are the odds that droplets with virus can get into your mouth, nose, eyes?  The efficiency of transmission for any contact relates to the amount of virus and the type of contact.  Think of a range between high levels of virus in a sick person with kissing contact with you versus lower levels of virus in a person without symptoms at 6 feet distance as a range.  Aim towards the less probable range.  Stay at 6 feet distance and short (<15 min) contact.  Do not trouble yourself too much about the teeny-tiny details in the arguments between virologists and epidemiologists. You are a practical person and there is a level of too much worry that is not helpful. Your life is not a surgical suite. There is a balance between caution and just too much worry that becomes paralyzing and irrational and a life that is unlivable.

2. The next less common, but possible, method of transmission is via droplets in the environment that can get onto your hands and can be transferred by your fingers into your mouth, nose, and eyes.  These relatively fragile little viral buggers can land in moist droplets onto surfaces and survive for awhile—the time of survival (of the virus) varies. Apparently these viruses in droplets survive longer on hard surfaces and are more concerning on things we touch like doorknobs tables, pens, countertops. They are less likely to survive on porous surfaces like cloth or hair.   So, you want to wash your hands with soap after you touch things in the environment. Have sanitizer or bleach in the car that you can use.

3. Make a “zone” around you where you live. It is “home” and “us/we”. Everything in that zone is “clean” as possible and should be kept safe.  As you come in to your zone then you (and everyone else in your zone habitat) should immediately wash your hands or hand sanitize at the door.  Make a way so that you think of that first before you start doing other things.  Do something at the doorway or before anything else.

4. When you go out in the world keep washing your hands or use hand sanitizer. Do not touch your face. You can use gloves or fingers in the world but do not touch your face (mouth, nose, eyes). I wear gardening gloves a lot because with them on my hands I don’t touch my face, I don’t scratch my eyes, I don’t pull a cat hair out off my tongue. When I get into my car or arrive home I put them in my little plastic baggie. I wash them every so often. I watch people every day with gloves on touching their faces constantly.

We are going to be more scared next week because what we predicted would happen (exponential rise in cases and their detection by increased testing) will happen and actually seeing it will scare us, rightly so.  But keep steady, stay 6 feet distance and make your zone good.  Be kind to each other and patient.  Wash your hands.

Question: How is this virus transmitted? I am wondering about bringing things into my home—like food and mail—nothing extravagant.

This evening, in keeping with questions we get every day, there was an interview on PBS Newshour with Greg Ferrara the President National Grocers Association.

He was discussing grocery store supplies at national level.  In short, your TP and butter will be there for the long haul. There is plenty of food and plenty in the supply line. They just need to restock.

He suggests buying enough groceries to last for 1- 1.5 week at a time.  This will leave plenty for your neighbor to get some too.

He also speaks to how they manage supplies at the grocery store and his view on when you get them home with them.  Notably his interview gave important information and was much more impressive than the preceding interview with our secretary of defense (Espey) who was a tool and a bluffer. Link to Mr. Ferrara:

MAIL and Papers:

I sent out my advice for how to avoid droplet spread 3 days ago so I won’t repeat it… yet.  Repetition is the soul of learning and I know everyone is getting so much advice and a lot of it a bit over-wrought.  What viral bits can be taken off a cardboard box in laboratory conditions may not actually be adequate to transmit the illness. Here is my favorite link on this topic today.

FOOD AND GROCERIES: For food and groceries that we are bringing into our homes I went to the National Association of Grocers site and they worked with CDC and various reliable recommendations to come up with these FAQ’s

Q: Should food facilities (grocery stores, manufacturing facilities, restaurants, etc.) perform any special cleaning or sanitation procedures for COVID-19?

A: CDC recommends routine cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. CDC does not recommend any additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning at this time. Restaurants and retail food establishments are regulated at the state and local level. State, local, and tribal regulators use the Food Code published by the FDA to develop or update their own food safety rules. Generally, FDA-regulated food manufacturers are required to maintain clean facilities, including, as appropriate, clean and sanitized food contact surfaces, and to have food safety plans in place.   Food safety plans include a hazards analysis and risk-based preventive controls and include procedures for maintaining clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces.

Q: Is food imported to the United States from China and other countries affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), at risk of spreading COVID-19?

A: Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

Q: Are food products produced in the United States a risk for the spread of COVID-19?

A: There is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19.

Q: Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or food contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?

A: Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.  Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Q: Can I get COVID-19 from a food worker handling my food?

A: Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in some communities in the U.S. The CDC recommends that if you are sick, stay home until you are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. Anyone handling, preparing and serving food should always follow safe food handling procedures, such as washing hands and surfaces often.

(note scroll down on their site to get to these questions.)

Associated links by video:

1. The Advice given by Dr. David Price in the 50 min video that we sent around provides the same information and it has an empowering and calming effect.

2. From the Robin Roberts show there is an interview with a virologist that also talks about how to go shopping that is an excellent overview it is also very resonable. Sorry this is a Facebook link that I cannot insert into WordPress. If you search Google for “Robin Roberts how to stay safe while grocery shopping” and it will take you to the link.

Sensible safe grocery shopping.

Published by sharon Mcdonnell

Medical Epidemiologist and Community Memeber

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