The risks of contracting COVID-19 come with some surprising details: A sneeze releases 30,000 droplets, which may contain a whopping 200 million virus particles traveling at 200 miles an hour. So if an infected person coughs in the grocery story, those virus particles she released in produce may well travel to dairy—and the HVAC system just keeps circulating the suckers.
Keeping yourself safe can feel like a daunting task, especially if you need to go out into the world regularly. Here are some good practices for avoiding the virus when you can’t avoid public spaces.
Until there’s a vaccine or herd immunity, cases of COVID-19 are going to keep rising. The virus is the leading cause of death worldwide, and it’s likely to have an even more dangerous second wave. But we aren’t even at the peak of the first one.
This is not the time to relax your safety practices, like staying six feet from people, wearing a mask, and limiting your time in public.
Wash (and watch) your hands
When you’re touching door handles and shopping carts and debit card machines, you may well be picking up virus particles that you unthinkingly transfer to your eyes, nose, or mouth. Washing your hands as much as possible—especially when you’ve been out of the house—is an important prevention practice.
So is keeping your fingertips out of the equation. If you can get into the habit of, say, pushing buttons with your knuckles and using a shirt tail between your hand and a door handle, you’ll be less likely to transfer any bad news you picked up. It’s also a good idea to keep hand sanitizer in your car or bag so that you can kill off virus particles even before you get a chance to get home and scrub up.
Leave your phone alone
Unless you have sanitizing wipes with you, try to keep your hands off your phone when you’ve been out touching public surfaces. Not only can the virus live on your phone for a while, you’re likely to put it right up to your face, where those particles can do the most damage.
Keep your distance
Okay, this is a tough one, but even when you’re getting together with a friend or family member, you’re much better off not giving them the hug you probably both desperately need at this point. The closer you are to another human, the more likely you are to infect each other. So talk from several feet away, preferably outdoors, and maybe try an alternate greeting? Dancing hello sounds pretty good right about now.