As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, you can help protect yourself and prevent spreading the disease by diligently practicing sensible day-to-day habits. The best form of prevention is to avoid exposure to the virus.
If you suspect you might be infected with COVID-19, or if you have been tested and received a positive diagnosis, it’s important that you take active steps to protect the people around you.
How to Protect Yourself
It’s important to realize that COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who are not yet symptomatic. Therefore, practicing good hygiene throughout your day is vital.
The most important steps you can take:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. You should wash your hands after using the bathroom, before you prepare or eat food, as well as anytime you blow your nose, cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth – especially with unwashed or unsanitized hands.
- Avoid handshakes and hugs.
- Practice social distancing. The CDC recommendation is to maintain a distance of at least six feet.
- Wear a face covering in public places where you can’t guarantee you can keep six feet between you and others.
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Try to cough or sneeze into a tissue or your arm, rather than into your hands. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash immediately.
- If you are ill, stay home.
Washing Your Hands
Washing your hands doesn’t mean a quick splash and rinse.
But a good hand-washing is still simple:
- Start by wetting your hands.
- Apply soap and then work up a good lather.
- Work the lather over all parts of your hand: palm, back, fingers, fingertips.
- Dry thoroughly with a clean towel.
- If using a paper towel, throw it in the trash immediately.
Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using a formula that is at least 60% alcohol. Apply to all parts of your hands and fingers and rub until dry.
What is Your Risk?
If you believe you’ve come into contact with someone in the community who has been diagnosed with novel coronavirus (COVID-19), here’s how you can determine your risk for contracting the virus.
|LOW RISK||Walking by or briefly being in the same room with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and was experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath).|
|MEDIUM RISK||Sustained close contact for 10 minutes or longer within six feet of someone with COVID-19 while they had symptoms and/or you had direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person without either person wearing a mask.|
|HIGH RISK||Close household contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.|
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 include older adults and those with serious chronic or long-term medical conditions.
If You Become Sick …
If you become sick, especially if you display non-emergency symptoms of COVID-19, stay home. Consult your health care provider early on for the best treatment.
- Shortness of breath
DO NOT immediately go to the hospital or a doctor’s office, as your presence there will heighten the risk of spreading the disease to other people. Instead, call ahead for treatment. You can also chat with Clare, the chatbot in the bottom right corner of this screen.
You can also call 833-OSF-KNOW (833-673-5669) for more information about where and how to receive screening and care. These options are available free of charge, 24 hours a day to anyone with questions or concerns about COVID-19.
You should also be aware of emergency warning signs that require urgent medical attention such as:
- Difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to respond
- Not urinating
- Severe muscle pain
- Severe weakness or unsteadiness
- Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
- Worsening of chronic medical condition
Steps to Take in Public
If you are directed to visit a health care provider, take the following precautions:
- Wear a face mask. This will help prevent droplets from coughs and sneezes from spreading through the air.
- Avoid public transportation.
- Avoid public areas, and if impossible, maintain at least six feet of distance between you and other people.
Steps to Take at Home
If you suspect you might have COVID-19, or if you have tested positive for the disease and are sent home to recover, here are important steps you should take to try to avoid passing the infection to others:
- Try to use a separate bathroom.
- Thoroughly wash and sanitize your hands frequently.
- If a surface is dirty, wash it first, then sanitize it.
- Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces, including doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, phones, desktops, keyboards, faucets, sinks and toilets.
- Clean and disinfect any surface with blood or other bodily fluids on them.
- Avoid sharing bedding, towels, dishes, glasses, etc. Wash those items thoroughly after using.
Finally, if you’ve been diagnosed COVID-19 and instructed to stay at home, realize this is because you pose a risk to the community. Remain in home isolation until your health care provider clears you to leave.
Looking for More Information?
OSF COVID Companion is a free text messaging tool that you can use to receive guidance.
To sign up, text OSF to 67634 and follow the prompts.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Illinois Department of Public Health and Human Services
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services