The entire world has become affected by Covid-19, formally known as SARS-CoV-2. This virus originated in China. Most current data suggest that this virus, or more likely a predecessor of it, had a bat host. The horseshoe bat has been theorized as one potential host. From there we have several opinions as to what happened. One opinion is that it affected humans, but was not a real pathogen (caused no harm). The virus would have evolved/changed into its current form. The second opinion is that there was an intermediate host–another animal that got the virus from the bat. In this other animal the virus mutated into its current form and then infected humans.

In any case, this new virus is extremely contagious by respiratory droplets. For that reason, social distancing is required at this time. It has been well studied that sneezing and coughing spreads respiratory droplets up to 6 feet in most cases. There are studies showing spread of respiratory droplets as far as 27 feet, but it is not known whether spread of a virus can occur at this distance as the particles are very small and carry a minuscule viral load at best. For this reason, six feet apart from others is considered to be reasonable and fairly safe.

The most common cause of spread of Covid-19 is from one’s contaminated hands to their own face. I cannot stress this enough.  If you are in a potentially contaminated situation, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE until you have washed them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If washing is not feasible, use an alcohol-based disinfectant that has at least 60% alcohol (i.e. Purell) What are some potentially contaminated situations: public elevators, public stairs, supermarkets, and basically anywhere outside of the safety of your own home.  Your home is safe if, and only if, when anyone returns to the home they immediately wash their hands before touching anything AND everyone entering the home does not have Covid-19.  The home should be your safe place. There should be no visitors. Only those who reside in the home should be there. If a household member is suspected of having Covid-19, he or she should be isolated within the home and all recent contacts, and members of the home, should be quarantined for at least 2 weeks.

What does quarantine mean? It means that the person who is in quarantine has NO direct exposure to any other person if at all possible. If some contact is required (i.e. sharing a single bathroom), the infected person MUST wear a mask and all other persons who come in contact with that person MUST wear a mask as well. The uninfected individuals must be cognizant of the potentially contaminated areas and be extremely cautious–Disinfect the area prior to use (Lysol spray, bleach wipes, etc.)–clean all potentially contaminated surfaces prior to using the space. Do not ever touch your face in those areas and immediately wash your hands after leaving the space. Wearing a mask helps to remind one not to touch their face and is helpful.

If you must go out: social distance, wipe down areas with bleach wipes (or similar disinfectant) if contact with them is required, cover your face (somewhat controversial, but the good likely outweighs the bad, if any), and wash your hands when you can. Be safe!

For those who do cover their faces, understand that the outside surface of the masks can become contaminated (dirty). If you put the mask down on a surface, you can contaminate the surface. For washable masks, wear them after use. For surgical masks that you intend to reuse, put the mask in clean, new bag after each use. Do not put it on a counter-top of other surface that you can contaminate.

Get out and exercise!  Walk, jog, or run if you can. Do other exercises in the home such as push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, etc.  Eat healthy.

When going out for groceries, try to order online and get curbside pickup. Another great alternative is to order groceries, supplies, and medications from an online store that delivers.  Understand that contamination of the bags is possible. Items that are not perishable can be left out for 3 or more hours to reduce the risk of contamination or one can spray them with a disinfectant. Perishable items can be washed with soap and water or sprayed with a non-toxic disinfectant if one desires. Anywhere that the bags were placed should be considered contaminated and should be cleaned. And, of course, wash your hands once you are done putting things away!

Social distance, but do not socially isolate yourself! Communicate with friends and family via phone, Facetime, or another means of electronic communication. Join an online social group, take an online class, or learn a new language. There are more opportunities than ever to have online interactions and there is no better time than now to do so. Think about others that might be alone and contact them regularly.

To summarize:

  1. Stay home and only go out when absolutely necessary or to exercise.
  2. Do not have visitors in your home and do not go visit others in their homes.
  3. Always practice social distancing. Always!
  4. Never touch your face, unless you are in a safe place (i.e. home) and you have washed your hands before doing so.
  5. If one is in quarantine, please follow the quarantine rules to keep yourself and those around you safe.
  6. Cover your face when you expect to come in contact with others.
  7. When things are brought into the home (i.e. shopping bags), consider them contaminated and treat them as such.
  8. Do not socially isolate yourself–talk to others, join a social group, or take an online class
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Robert S. Bader, M.D., Dermatologist

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