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Mendo Lake Family Life

10 Ways to Protect Your Family from the Coronavirus

Mar 17, 2020 11:11AM
 The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in the federal government declaring a national emergency. Make sure everyone in the family is following the CDC’s and other authorities’ simple but powerful steps to keep the virus at bay.

Get the Facts
The virus is thought to spread from person to person through close contact and droplets in coughs and sneezes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus has mostly infected adults, with older people and the immune-compromised at the greatest risk of severe illness and death; children seem to develop milder symptoms. As of March 16, there are a total of five cases of COVID-19 in Sonoma County. The first three cases were contracted via international travel; as of March 15, there are now two cases that were contracted locally. There are no cases in Mendocino and Lake Counties. According to the CDC, if there is a local outbreak, the virus could be present in the community for a long time.

Stay Home
The number one way to stay well is to avoid contact with the virus. Sonoma County is now under a shelter-in-place order. So that means only essential travel to obtain groceries, gas, medicine, medical services, and the like is allowed. (Click here for a complete list of essential services.) Authorities have requested that Mendocino County residents stay at home. A shelter-in-place order for Lake County is anticipated. The residents of San Francisco and several other Bay Area counties, including Marin, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, and Contra Costa, have also been ordered to stay at home. On a national front, the federal government has advised that groups of 10 or more should not gather. Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and Lake County schools have suspended in-person classes.

Wash Your Hands and Disinfect Stuff You Touch Often
1. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds (the ABC song sung twice)—especially if hands are visibly dirty. This is especially important to do after using the bathroom; before taking in food; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. No soap and water around? Reach for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, just make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

2. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Of course, it’s hard to make kids do this. So get creative. “Make a game out of it,” says Claire McCarthy, MD, of Harvard Health Publishing, “have them itch with their knees instead.”

3. Use a Lysol or bleach cleaning solution or wipe to disinfect surfaces that are often touched, such as cell phones, doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, tables, counters, steering wheels, refrigerator handles, stove handles, and arms of chairs etc. Click here for instructions on how to disinfect computer equipment such as keyboards, monitors, and mice.

4. Keep little (and grownup) hands away from public surfaces, especially playgrounds. “Bring things for [children] to hold instead, or hold hands with them,” says McCarthy. “Have them wear gloves (have extras so you can wash the worn ones when you get home). It’s not a bad idea to carry some wipes with you to wipe down seats, tables, and other such things in public areas before you use them.” When public surfaces are touched, make sure to wash hands immediately.

5. Stay away from crowds and sick people.

6. If you or the kids are sick, stay home.

7. Avoid playdates with other children.

8. Carry tissues to cover a cough or sneeze, and then make sure to immediately throw used tissue in the trash. Don’t let your kids leave snotty tissues around the house, where the little bundles can spread germs.

9. Wash towels (especially those used by more than one person), clothes, and plush toys often and at as warm a temperature as possible. Dry clothes in dryer thoroughly.

10. Avoid non-essential travel, especially on planes and cruise ships.

Are Facemasks Necessary?
The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t think so—unless you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Then it’s time to put on an N-95 and call your health care provider.

Keep Your Immune System Happy
For suggestions on how to keep your family’s bodies strong, see the blog post of pediatrician Elisa Strong, “Coronavirus (COVID-19): What a Pediatrician Wants You to Know” at https://healthykidshappykids.com/2020/02/27/coronavirus-covid-19/.

For more information, see cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html, socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus, mendocinocounty.org/community/novel-coronavirus, and health.co.lake.ca.us/Coronavirus.htm.