As we all know by now, COVID-19 was an unexpected virus that took the world by storm claiming over a million deaths worldwide and will likely claim more after this article is published. It is something we are learning about and will continue to learn about through time much like every other microbiological contaminant we have in our environment. While COVID-19 is indeed worrisome, there are things you can be proactive in doing to protect yourself, your family, and your loved ones. This is meant for educational purposes on how to protect yourself and be proactive in making a difference in your community.
A virus can be as small is .007 microns or 7 nanometers. COVID-19 is believed to be 50-200 nanometers in diameter. By comparison, mold spores are said to be as small as 1 micron to 100 microns in size. This makes a virus over 1000 times smaller than a mold spore. This information can be useful in understanding what air purification system can help trap microbiological contaminants. One of the best commercially available air purification systems we have seen is from Intellipure as the specifications claim that it can filter out particles as small as 7 nanometers making it a great air filtration device against viruses such as COVID-19. We also know, that even the best HEPA or ULPA vacuum will not be able to trap a virus particle in its filter, rendering it ineffective at cleaning for any viral contamination. The best methods to disinfect are using a CDC N-List registered disinfectant and wiping away the surfaces with microfiber towels (which are known to be 100x more effective than any other towel at trapping particles).
COVID-19 is an enveloped virus which is both good and bad. It’s bad because it makes it easier to reproduce in the host. It’s good because it makes it more sensitive to desiccation, heat, and detergents making this virus easier to sterilize than a non-enveloped viruses. With this information we know we can safeguard ourselves better through sanitization protocols to ensure we are better protected. Here are some guidelines that are effective in sanitizing:
- When traveling to public areas where you are in contact with fomites (objects or materials which are likely to carry infection, such as door knobs, hand rails, and other objects people who could be carrying COVID-19 are touching) it’s important to sanitize your hands immediately before touching another object. While hand sanitizer is used frequently when hand washing is not available, hand washing under warm water for 20 seconds with an anti-bacterial soap is most effective.
- Sanitizing your shoes and removing them at the door is effective against carrying viruses, bacteria, and other microbiological contaminants into your home.
- While sanitizing packaged grocery items is generally accepted as unnecessary, it’s a good idea to wash things like fruit which could have been handled by others prior to consuming.
- If you are planning to wear gloves at places like a grocery store or a gas station, it’s important to throw away the gloves in a proper trash receptacle prior to touching other items such as your phone or car keys. Biological contaminants can last longer on a non-porous substrate such as nitrile than it would on your skin. While some gloves offer microorganism resistance, the gloves readily available in most stores do not offer this type of protection.
- It would be wise to disinfect the inside of your car and home daily using a CDC N-List approved product that is known to have a broad spectrum kill claim. This helps prevent transmission of microbiological contaminants entering the home unknowingly.
- Changing and washing your clothes with detergent upon entering the home from a public space is effective against transmitting the virus to other surfaces in the home by direct contact.
Tips to preventing the spread of COVID-19:
- Wearing a mask has been a controversial topic. While there is a valid argument that the virus is much smaller than the efficiency of the mask itself, there is one important matter that is not being observed in this argument. An infected person can contain as many as two hundred million virus particles in the droplets from a cough. The mask will help absorb these particles that are contained in the droplets. Furthermore, it’s been estimated that 330 virus particles per second are released in water droplets from an average person in normal conversation. While wearing a mask isn’t perfect and doesn’t stop contamination from aerosolized particles passing through the mask, it does curb the spread of the virus and as such, it should be used as a method to stop transmission and protect our community.
- You should take your temperature each morning before leaving your home. Should you have even a low-grade fever (a temperature above 99.5) you should stay home until your temperature comes back down to normal. Our recommendation is that once your temperature increases to a low-grade fever, you should quarantine until your fever has maintained at normal temperatures for 5 consecutive days thereafter before returning to normal routine (even if you never developed any other COVID-19 symptoms).
- If you have any symptoms of illness (without fever) one should quarantine themselves until they have two consecutive days of no symptoms. While recommendations on #2 and #3 may seem extreme, it is a responsible action to ensure that you are not spreading illness.
- If a family member in your household has either a low-grade fever or any symptoms of illness, it is a good idea to quarantine as well to ensure that you are not possibly transmitting any illness to others in case you are asymptomatic.
- When traveling outside your state, it’s important to follow all state regulations in regards to quarantining even if you do not feel symptomatic.
- If you or someone you know has contracted COVID-19, it’s important to disinfect the car, home, and any other points of contact regularly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to other members of the family.
- Our recommendations in #2-4 are not to replace the need for testing for COVID-19 but are recommended in supplementation for milder cases where health officials may not deem testing necessary at your current state.
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