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  • Immunize for Immunity

Coronavirus Basic Protective Measures: What You Can do to Protect Yourself and Others From COVID-19

Written by Sasi Valivetti l Originally published March 19, 2020

On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which was first detected in China and then spread to more than 100 locations internationally, “a public health emergency of international concern”. On January 31st, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency for the United States. On March 11th, the World Health Organization publicly announced COVID-19 as a pandemic. On March 13th, President Donald Trump of the United States declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a national emergency.

One cannot exaggerate the seriousness of this situation. With every sneeze, cough, handshake, or touch, you risk spreading and infecting someone else with COVID-19. Even worse, it takes about two weeks for symptoms to manifest, which means that you may be infected and not even know about it. In that case, imagine how many people you would have come across, and how many more people they may have come across, etc.; without proper protective measures, this becomes a never ending cycle. This is why it is important to take these measures now.

While COVID-19 has already been announced as a pandemic, it is still important to take steps to slow its spread in order to place emphasis on recovery. Currently hospitals all across the country are running out crucial supplies, such as ventilator masks, which can potentially save many lives in hospitalization, and if this trend continues, more lives will be lost then saved and lives facing full recovery may be put in jeopardy. By following these steps, you can keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19.

*Wash Your Hands Frequently

Washing your hands with some alcohol-based hand rub or just soap and water kills viruses that may be on your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises individuals to spend at least 20 seconds scrubbing their hands, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and especially after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing. Make sure to work the soap into a lather and wash the back of your hands and between fingers.

*If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least a 60% alcohol concentration, but if your hands are visibly dirty, always use soap and water.

*Keep in mind that hand sanitizer is not effective against all types of germs, so it is at best interest to use soap and water.

*Maintain Social Distancing

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 3 feet of social distancing between yourself and anyone else who is coughing or sneezing in order to prevent liquid droplets from the nose and mouth from entering you. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including COVID-19 if the person coughing or sneezing had the virus. President Trump and his task force looked at a variety of models regarding the spread of COVID-19. They found that if the United States did nothing about the virus, an estimated 2.2 million people will die. They then looked into several interventions-including home isolation, home

quarantining for infected household members-and found that large scale social distancing will need to be in place for several months in order to prevent more deaths and reduce peak healthcare demands until a vaccine becomes available. For this reason, President Trump urges individuals to avoid discretionary travel and limit gatherings to fewer than 10 people.

  • Avoid Touching Your Face, Especially Areas Around Your Nose, Mouth, and Eyes

Our hands touch many surfaces and can potentially pick up many bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19. You can transfer these germs, including COVID-19, into yourself by touching your face, especially through your nose, mouth, and eyes. These are openings in your body through which the virus can enter and infect you.

*Cover Your Nose and Mouth When You Sneeze or Cough

When you feel a cough or sneeze coming, cover your nose and mouth to prevent potentially infectious liquid droplets from becoming airborne and traveling to individuals around you. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when sneezing or coughing, and remember to dispose of the tissue immediately.

*If You are Feeling Sick with Flu-Like Symptoms, Seek Medical Care Immediately.

Seek medical care immediately if you are feeling ill with the following symptoms:

  • Runny nose

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • Fever

  • Difficulty Breathing

By seeking care as early as possible, you can protect yourself and others against the potential effects and transmission of this virus. If you allow it to progress to the point that it becomes severe, it can result in pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), kidney failure, and death; at this point, the virus would have spread to various parts of the body and treatment can be extremely difficult. Pursuing earlier treatment can potentially save more lives and slow the spread of the virus.

But one more question comes into view: when should you wear a mask? You most likely know about the mask shortage that has been happening in stores all across America, but when should you really use them? It is a common misconception that wearing a face mask can help you steer clear of the virus, but the regular surgical face-mask that you can find in stores actually does not help protect you from COVID-19. While it is good for keeping out pathogens from the nose and mouth, it is not designed to keep out viral particles, and does not serve as a tight fit around your nose and cheeks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to only wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with a suspected COVID-19 infection. This also applies to if you have been coughing or sneezing frequently, if you are practicing proper and frequent hand washing with alcohol hand rub or with soap and water (masks are only effective if you use them in combination with this), and if you know how to dispose of it properly.

*How to Properly Use a Mask

  1. Before putting on the mask, wash your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

  2. Cover your mouth and nose with the mask and make sure there are no gaps between the mask and your face.

  3. Avoid touching your mask; if you do, wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.

  4. Replace the mask if it becomes damp and do not reuse single use masks.

  5. To remove the mask, refrain from touching the front of the mask; remove the mask from the behind and discard immediately in a closed bin; wash your hands immediately afterwards with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Now that you know some basic prevention steps, you can utilize them to protect yourself and others against the COVID-19 pandemic. While it may not affect you at the moment, with more ignorance comes more consequences, and correlates with more deaths. You may believe that your misstep may not cause harm, but imagine if this behavior manifested itself in a population of numerous individuals.

Imagine our society’s condition if everyone behaved negligently and ignored the numerous information provided by public organizations. Imagine the rapidity of the viral spread. Imagine how many more people will become ill and potentially hospitalized. Imagine the shortage of supplies, including life saving devices which would lead to more deaths, including lives which could potentially be saved. Imagine the crisis that you and your family would be in, but by then it would be too late.

Ignorance is NOT an excuse. Take action NOW.


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Facher, Lev, et al. “Trump Urges People to Avoid Travel and Limit Gatherings to Fewer than 10.” STAT, 17 Mar. 2020,

Greenfieldboyce, Nell. “New Analysis Suggests Months of Social Distancing May Be Needed To Stop Virus.” NPR, NPR, 17 Mar. 2020,

Omer, Saad B. “Perspective | Five Myths about the Coronavirus.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 13 Mar. 2020,

“Q&A On Coronaviruses (COVID-19).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization,

Sergent, Jim, et al. “Social Distancing: It's Not about You, It's about Us.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 16 Mar. 2020,

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Swan, Jonathan, and Alayna Treene. “Congressional Doctor Expects 70 Million-150 Million U.S. Coronavirus Cases.” Axios, 11 Mar. 2020,

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