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Helpful Tips for Navigating Public and Personal Environments and Minimizing Coronavirus Spread

Dr. Mark T. Jansen

It can be overwhelming, thinking of all the things you need to do to protect yourself and your family during this pandemic. Here are some simple steps to help you navigate if you need to get out, and what to do if someone at home is ill.

When shopping
  1. Be prepared before leaving home. Make a list so you don’t wander in the store and prolong the visit.
  2. Avoid “big box” stores and their crowds, such as large retailers. If you can’t avoid big stores, visit when large crowds are unlikely, like when the store opens.
  3. Consider using pick up or delivery services to minimize exposure.
  4. Maintain social distancing as much as possible.
  5. Place disposable plastic or rubber gloves on your hands before entering the store and wear them throughout your visit. Don’t touch your face or phone until you remove the gloves and sanitize your hands.
  6. Be prepared to scan your items, wearing gloves while touching the scanner buttons. Usually, the screen will respond to your finger even with these gloves on.  If possible, avoid items that may require special entries like looking up an item number or weighing produce because they can delay your exit.
  7. Upon exiting the store, but before getting into your vehicle, remove and discard your gloves.
  8. Use sanitizer immediately upon reentering your vehicle.
When purchasing gas
  1. Apply gloves before getting out of your vehicle.
  2. Wear gloves throughout the gas purchase sequence, including making payments.
  3. Remove gloves before returning to your vehicle.
  4. Sanitize your hands immediately upon reentering your vehicle.
When living with someone with a potential or known coronavirus exposure
  1. Set up a separate room for sleeping.
  2. Maintain six feet of social distancing and wash your hands frequently with the same vigilance as in other places.
  3. Ensure someone who has not been exposed prepares food.
  4. Thoroughly sanitize all touched bathroom surfaces (faucet handles, toilet handles, doorknobs). If possible, assign a separate bathroom for the potentially exposed person.
When living with someone who has a positive coronavirus diagnosis
  1. All steps above apply.
  2. Ensure the patient wears a mask at all times, even if homemade, to reduce potential exposure of others to the positive person’s droplets from coughing or sneezing.
  3. Expect the Department of Health to ask all other household members to complete state-mandated quarantine for two weeks.
  4. If another household member subsequently tests positive for coronavirus, expect the quarantine clock to restart for others in the home.

It’s up to all of us to flatten the curve of coronavirus spread, but we can do it by staying calm, staying healthy and staying home.

Dr. Mark T. Jansen is chief medical officer at Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. He is a former family practice physician serving Arkadelphia for almost 30 years and taught medicine at UAMS for six years before coming to Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

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