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How to protect yourself from the coronavirus as events and holidays approach

And with the onset of winter, health experts say it will get worse as more people gather indoors to avoid the cold weather.

How else can you protect yourself and those you love? Here’s a refresh of the basics.

Wear a mask properly

It’s simple, but wearing a mask properly is one of the most important ways you can protect yourself and the people around you, health experts say.
A recent report by the Institute for Health Metrics and Assessments at the University of Washington found that if 95% of Americans wear masks, nearly 70,000 lives will be saved.
The updated CDC manual recognizes that the coronavirus can spread through the air

N95 masks offer the best protection, but they are in short supply, and the CDC is asking people not to go out and buy them because they are urgently needed by healthcare professionals.

Washable fabric breathable masks will work, but they should have at least two coats – three are better – and you can add a filter for more protection.

The masks should cover both your nose and mouth and fit snugly, without gaps.

Goggles or face shields are not necessarily recommended for eye protection if you are not a healthcare professional or are in high-risk situations, health experts say.
Not sure how to choose a mask? See these guidelines.

Wash your hands

Frequent hand washing is still one of the most basic and simple things you can do.

Make a good lather and rub your hands, fingers and nails for at least 20 seconds. Use clean, running water to rinse thoroughly, then wipe dry.

Washing for at least 20 seconds has been shown to remove more germs than washing for shorter periods. Singing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing can work as a “timer”.

Frequent hand washing will also protect you from any harmful bacteria and viruses other than the new coronavirus, including the flu and the common cold.
Coronavirus update: Latest news from around the world

use hand sanitizer

This is not as good as washing your hands with good old soap, but hand sanitizer can be used when this is not an option.

It is important that both hands are completely covered, including between the fingers and under the nails. Rub your hands until dry. Use it generously if your hands are greasy or really dirty, as the disinfectant may not be as effective in this case, according to the CDC.

Unlike the onset of a pandemic, hand sanitizer is relatively easy to find in stores, so don’t try to make your own. Health experts say it is extremely important to get the right concentration of alcohol to deactivate the virus.
Check out this list of more than 100 dangerous hand sanitizers to avoid. Some contain methanol, which can be lethal. Others do not have enough alcohol.

Reduce the risk

People stand in freshly painted circles six feet away while waiting in a two-hour line on March 23, 2020, in Denver, Colorado.

The best thing you can do is stay home, if possible, and reduce the risk by reducing orders and trips to the store.

Here's everything you need to know about social distancing
Not everyone has the luxury of doing this, of course. But social distancing – keeping 6 feet between you and others outside your home – and wearing a mask are crucial.

The safest place outside your home is outdoors. But even there, you need to keep a safe distance from people you don’t live with.

You can also reduce the risk by exporting food instead of dining in restaurants and avoiding public transport if possible.

Going to bars and nightclubs is considered one of the most risky things you can do.

Be prepared

As coronavirus infections spread across the country, the coming winter will only make things worse as people spend more time indoors.

And there is always the possibility of having to quarantine if you come in contact with someone who has the virus.

Reduce your exposure and be prepared to stay home by stocking up.

Public health officials advise that you have two weeks of food on hand. Storage of the closet will also reduce your trips to the grocery store.

Make sure you have enough cleaning and disinfecting supplies and that your medicine cabinet is equipped with cough drops and syrup for cough symptoms, decongestants for congestion, acetaminophen and ibuprofen for pain and fever, and antidiarrheals. Store self-adhesive wound dressings.

If you are taking prescription drugs, make sure you have enough on hand.

Check for symptoms and get tested

A member of the Wisconsin National Guard helped test Covid-19 residents at the Miller Park Propulsion Test Center on November 17, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Fever, cough and shortness of breath are among the most common symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

But there is also diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, loss of smell and taste, body aches, mental confusion and even delirium.

Do you have a runny nose or stuffy nose? Unless you have a fever, it’s probably just an allergy, like the one caused by mold on the leaves at this time of year.

If you have been exposed to a coronavirus, symptoms are likely to appear within a week, health experts say. That is, if you will have them at all – which some people do not have. Any or all symptoms can occur between two and 14 days after exposure to the virus, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you suspect you are infected, go to a test center near you. Contact your local or state health department to find out where to take the test.

Unless you have serious symptoms, avoid emergency rooms that are crowded in many places. Call your doctor and follow her or his instructions.

Serious symptoms include difficulty breathing, constant pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to stay awake or awake, and a bluish face or lips, according to the CDC.

In this case, call 911 or call the emergency department near you in advance, the CDC advises.

Do not emphasize disinfection of packaging

When the virus first spread to the United States, we were told to disinfect our food and packaging once we took them home. We now know that this is not necessary – even the US Food and Drug Administration has said that there is no real risk of contracting the virus from these packages.

The same goes for washing fruits and vegetables, according to the FDA. Just rinse them in plain water.

We now know that the main mode of transmission of the virus is through the air, through respiratory droplets or aerosols from an infected person. However, it is important to disinfect surfaces and wash your hands after being outside or touching objects outside your home.

Maggie Fox, Holly Ian, Sandy Lamot, AJ Willingham, Kristen Rodgers, Scotty Andrew and Alicia Lee contributed to this report.

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