Editor’s note: As of Monday, March 23, 2020, all Ohioans are now required to stay in their homes to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 – this “stay at home” order is in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020. This order prohibits holding gatherings of any size and closes all nonessential businesses. It does NOT prohibit essential activities like going to the grocery store, receiving medical care, or taking your pet for a walk. For more information on what this order means for you, please go to the Ohio Department of Health’s Website.
Government officials have requested that Americans stay home as much as possible to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus causing COVID-19. But there may be times when you need to leave the house, like to get food or medication.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before your head out to keep you, your loved ones and community members safe from COVID-19.
Only go out if necessary
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns, “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.” To limit exposure, only go out if absolutely necessary and limit your total number of trips. Consider combining trips if you have to go multiple places. Think about having a designated runner to limit how many people in the house are exposed to outside pathogens.
Be aware of possible closings
Many businesses are now closed as a precaution or due to executive orders. It’s best to double check to see if where you’re headed is still open. Visit the CDC or your state’s Department of Health website for executive orders, as well as businesses’ websites for their precautionary guidelines and practices.
Know your risk
The CDC has stated older adults and those with underlying health conditions are most at risk. If you fall into these categories, be extra cautious of your environment. Consider having someone run errands for you to decrease the likelihood of you contracting COVID-19.
Practice public etiquette
If you are sick, or have been exposed to someone who is sick, stay home unless directed by your doctor to leave your house for care.
If you must cough or sneeze, do so in your sleeve or into a tissue you throw away. Be sure to wash your hands often and disinfect surfaces you touch with disinfecting wipes. Some businesses provide these when you enter and exit their building.
Embrace social distancing
COVID-19 can be transmitted through respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. To lessen the chances of exposure, the CDC recommends that you maintain a social distance of 6 feet or more from people around you.
Social distancing becomes tough in public areas, so the CDC recommends you avoid these places. On Monday, March 16, United States President Donald Trump recommended avoiding gatherings of 10 people or more.
What should you take with you?
- Hand sanitizer containing 60% alcohol or more. Hand sanitizer is a complement, not a substitute for washing your hands. You should wash your hands when you are able to.
- Cleaning wipes to disinfect any areas you are about to touch or have already touched.
- Tissues for coughs and sneezes. Tissues can also act as a barrier to surfaces you need to touch.
Watch your hands
While you are out, always avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes, especially if you are in a public area. And avoid contact with high-touch surfaces, such as door handles, elevator buttons and handrails. Put your sleeve over your hand or consider using a tissue if you must touch them.