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Coronavirus 101

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From masks to medicine, there is a lot of misinformation spreading about coronavirus. Ascension Health’s Dr. Maria Granzotti shares all the info you need to know.

In partnership with Ascension Health

Coronavirus 101 - Dr. Maria Granzotti - Ascension Health - Austin Woman Magazine
Dr. Maria Granzotti courtesy of Ascension Health

Over the past several weeks, we’ve all been searching for a new normal. People have transformed their homes into schools, offices, gyms and restaurants. There have been Zoom conference calls, virtual happy hours, FaceTime birthday dinners, drive-by weddings.  As the city begins easing restrictions, you might be concerned about the continuing risks of coronavirus and how to protect yourself and your community. Dr. Maria Granzotti, chief medical officer at Ascension Texas, shares the latest coronavirus information and answers your most commonly asked questions. Here are some of her tips for staying safe and healthy. 

Coronavirus 101: Cleaning 

It is important to disinfect surfaces in your home daily, especially if they may have come into contact with the virus.

One of the most important things you can do to minimize your risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, making sure you wash all surfaces and between your fingers. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol. After applying hand sanitizer, rub your hands together, covering the entire surface of your hands then allowing to air-dry.

Additionally, it is important to disinfect surfaces daily, especially if they may have come in contact with the virus. Surfaces you should clean and disinfect often include high-touch areas such as doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets and electronics. A good rule of thumb is, if surfaces are dirty, clean them. 

Carry-out, food deliveries and grocery shopping are safe as long as precautions are taken.

Coronavirus 101: Food

The risk of contracting the coronavirus from groceries is very low, but you can take a few steps to further reduce your chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19 during the process of grocery shopping.

If you are planning to go to the grocery store yourself, you should plan to go during a less busy time in order to minimize your contact with other people.

  • Plan to disinfect the handle of the shopping cart with disinfecting wipes.
  • Maintain a 6-foot distance from other shoppers while in the store.
  • Avoid touching your eyes or face.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as possible after leaving the store.

Carry-out and delivery are generally considered low-risk activities for contracting or spreading COVID-19, and they are a great way to support your local business community during these difficult times. However, you can take some steps to further decrease the risk.

For delivery, have the delivery person leave your food on your doorstep or porch. The food itself is considered very low risk for contracting the virus, however, the food containers might be able to transmit COVID-19. Transfer the food from the restaurant container to your own containers or dishes and immediately dispose of the restaurant containers. Disinfect any surfaces that the containers touched. Immediately wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and water. If possible, microwave your food for 30 seconds to kill any virus possibly present on the food.

For carry-out, many places offer curbside pickup, so you do not have to enter the restaurant. Use this option if available and place the food into your trunk or cargo area. Again, transfer the food from the restaurant container to your own containers or dishes and immediately dispose of the restaurant containers. Disinfect any surfaces that the containers touched. Immediately wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and water. If possible, microwave your food for 30 seconds to kill any virus possibly present on the food.

Coronavirus 101: Masks

On April 3, the CDC released updated guidance about using cloth face covers for the public in areas of significant community-based transmission. The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. The reason the CDC changed its guidance is to slow the spread of the virus from people who may have the virus and do not know it, because they are not yet having symptoms.

Cloth face coverings made from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Coronavirus 101: FAQ

Q: Do I need to wear gloves to protect myself?

A: Coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Most people are infected when these droplets land in their mouths or noses or if they inhale them when breathing. These droplets also land on surfaces. A safer practice than wearing gloves is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When a sink is not available, use a hand sanitizer of at least 60-percent alcohol base. If gloves are used, it’s important to still avoid touching your face. After removing gloves, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.  

Q: Will I get infected if I go outside?

A: It is safe to go outside. Exercising outdoors, such as taking a walk, is an excellent way to stay healthy and reduce stress. You can spend time outside as long as you avoid crowds. Of course, restrictions may vary based upon how severe the outbreak is in the region you live. Please take some time to be outside, if you can.

Q: Can mosquitos or other bug bites infect me?

A: Fortunately, COVID-19 is not spread by insects. Instead, it is spread through respiratory droplets from other people when they cough or sneeze. Obviously, there are many other diseases that are spread by insects, and you should take usual precautions.

Q: Does the flu shot protect against coronavirus?

A: Unfortunately, the flu shot does not protect against coronavirus, but it is the best way to help reduce your risk of getting the flu. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.

Q: Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?

A: No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The new coronavirus is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

Q: Does hot weather prevent coronavirus?  

A: According to the CDC, exposing yourself to the sun or high temperatures does not prevent COVID-19. You can catch COVID-19 regardless of how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19.

Q: Does vaping make me more susceptible to getting coronavirus?

A: Smoking tobacco or marijuana, vaping or the misusing drugs are activities that may harm lung health. Because the virus attacks the lungs, even individuals who do not have underlying lung disease but participate in these activities may be at an increased risk for serious complications from COVID-19.

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