As Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health reiterated in a news conference Wednesday, March 11, people who are 60 and older are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19 if they become infected with the new coronavirus. People in nursing homes and assisted living communities are particularly vulnerable, and the state has issued an order limiting the amount of visitors to these facilities.
We wanted to know what other steps people over 60, those caring for loved ones, and other high-risk groups should take to stay safe, so we asked OhioHealth geriatric medicine physician Kathleen Hager, DO, FACOI, who shared this advice:
1. Wash your hands prior to preparing food or eating, after using the toilet, after touching garbage or pet waste and after coughing or sneezing.
2. Use hand sanitizer when soap is not accessible.
3. Avoid touching your face.
4. Avoid shaking hands or hugging members of the public.
5. Limit visits to the doctor, hospitals, emergency departments and other care sites, unless deemed necessary by your doctor. Consider rescheduling appointments for stable conditions and request refills by phone.
6. Avoid public gatherings, such as sporting events, church and grocery stores during peak times.
7. Avoid sick family members and friends.
8. When you must be around others in public, keep a 6-foot distance between you.
9. Open doors or push buttons with your knuckles or elbows.
10. Get your flu vaccine! It will help protect you from the serious symptoms of flu, and will decrease demand on our healthcare system, which is crucial at this time.
If you think you may have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19, call your primary care doctor or the Ohio Department of Health call center. The call center is now open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m to answer your COVID-19 questions, and can be reached at 1 (833) 4-ASK-ODH (1 (833) 427.5634).
The information in this article was updated March 14, 2020, and aligns with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the latest information about the new coronavirus, visit the CDC’s website.