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The disease known as Coronavirus or COVID-19 continues to spread. The Centers for Disease Control believes that it will reach the United States. The CDC reports that the disease can be especially severe for older patients and babies. As usual the very old and very young need to take precautions for Coronavirus prevention. Health care providers may be more likely to come in contact with an infected patient as well. There are some simple and common sense precautions we can take to help protect ourselves.

First the warnings. The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China and South Korea. Similarly, all travelers should reconsider cruises to or within Asia. In order to help Coronavirus prevention, if possible, travel should be rescheduled for a future date. If you do travel on a cruise to Asia or within Asia, you should do the following:

Avoid contact with sick people

Discuss cruise ship travel with your healthcare provider.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands for Coronavirus Prevention.

For Coronavirus prevention, clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol.

If you take a cruise and become sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within 14 days of your travel:

  • Seek medical advice. Before you go to a doctors office, urgent care center or hospital emergency department, call ahead.. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.

To aid in Coronavirus prevention, in addition to the warnings above, there is a lower alert (level 2) for the countries of Iran, Italy, and Japan. The CDC reports that those destinations are experiencing sustained community transmission of respiratory illness caused by Coronavirus. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel to those countries.

If you have a confirmed or suspected case of Coronavirus/COVID-19 and have been determined by your health care providers not to need hospitalization, the CDC advises the following:

If you are determined to be safe to go home, you will still be monitored by staff from your local or state health department.

  • Stay home except to get medical care. Restrict activities outside your home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing or Taxis.
    • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people. You should use a separate bathroom, if available.
    • Avoid contact with pets and other animals while your are sick. When possible have another member of your household care for your animals. If you must care for your pet or be around animals, wash your hands before and after interacting with them and wear a facemask.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting exposed or infected.
  • Wear a facemask when you are around other people or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with hand sanitizer.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday. Surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables should be cleaned at least daily. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe per label instructions.

If you are a caregiver or household member in a non-healthcare setting with a person who has COVID-19 or is under investigation, you should do the following:

  • Monitor your health. Call your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms suggestive of Coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath.)
    • Monitor the patient’s symptoms. If any worsening occurs notify the patient’s healthcare provider immediately.
  • Stay in another room as much as possible. Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
  • Prohibit visitors and warn any service providers. Make facemasks available.
  • Provide for good airflow, such as by air conditioner or opened window when possible.
  • Frequently wash your hands.
  • Wear a facemask when you are in the same room with the patient, or when removing the patient’s blood, stool, saliva, nasal mucus, vomit or urine. Also use disposable gloves. Throw out used facemasks and gloves-do not reuse.
  • Do not share dishes, glasses, eating utensils or towels with the patient.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. Wear disposable gloves while handling any soiled items. Clean your hands immediately after removing your gloves.
  • Normal laundry detergent is fine. Use the warmest dryer setting allowed on the clothing label.
  • Place all used disposable gloves, facemasks, and any other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste. Clean hands after handling these items.

Any other questions you should discuss with your local health department. Or you can check the CDC website at cdc.gov for updates.