Staying safe as COVID-19 pandemic continues

Posted: July 15, 2020 | 10:00 a.m.

By Terry Harris

 The Virginia Department of Health this week reported that COVID-19 “activity is increasing in a number of Virginia’s health districts.” Citing UVA COVID-19 Model Weekly Update they further reported that over the past two weeks “several important indicators have paused or worsened” and that “several states bordering Virginia are seeing strong COVID-19 case growth.”


Over 70,000 cases have now been reported in Virginia – the equivalent of more than twice the population of the City of Petersburg. Surry County now accounts for 18 of those cases, and Sussex County’s number of reported cases thus far totals 212. Health officials from CDC, WHO, and DDOH are urging continued vigilance in fighting the spread of the virus. Besides the over 3,000,000 confirmed infections across the America, less than six months after the first related fatalities from the virus in this country were reported, the death toll in the US alone stands at 134,572.


Most people now are at least aware that the Three W’s – 1) Wear a cloth covering (mask) over your nose and mouth, 2) Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact, and 3) Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer – are recommended ways for lessening the chance of contracting or spreading the virus. The importance of sanitizing surfaces of any electronics like cellphones and remote controls, wiping down door handles, steering wheels, light switches and keys and disinfecting everything from packages and grocery bags is well known. But the CDC warns that many hard-to-reach areas are often forgotten or inadequately treated.


For instance, the CDC also recommends sanitizing computer screens and keyboards, tablets, and smart watches by disinfecting these surfaces, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70 percent alcohol may be used carefully, if surfaces are completely dried afterward to prevent the possibility of liquid damage to those devices.


Despite travel restrictions, cars necessarily are used every day for trips to the grocery store, and the virus can lurk on any place touched in the car such as seat belts, door handles inside and out, and gear shifters. For these often forgotten or neglected areas, it is recommended to use hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes before entering or exiting a vehicle.


Wallets and purses also are often neglected when sanitizing to help avoid the spread of COVID-19, but credit cards, wallets, and keys all can carry coronavirus germs and others for up to 72 hours. All need to be disinfected with wipes or soap and water before and after use. Keys also may be soaked for at least a minute in a solution of four cups water and four teaspoons of bleach, which will effectively kill viruses for up to 24 hours.


Another seldom considered place where COVID-19 can lurk is on eyeglasses, as coronavirus can live up to four days on glass surfaces and three days on plastic and stainless steel, according to a study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection. The recommendation is to clean them with soap and water several times throughout the day.


“I’m certainly not saying glasses are the main culprit by any means,” said Dr. Barbara Horn, President of the American Optometric Association. “But you just always want to be careful—making sure you’re cognizant of the fact that glasses can transfer (the virus) and be aware of how to clean them properly.”


“Every time I walk in my home,” Dr Horn added, “the first thing I do is… wash my hands and then wash my glasses.”

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