As we continue to navigate life in the middle of global pandemic, what lesser-known tips should we consider to reduce our exposure to COVID-19?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve learned that wearing face masks, maintaining social distance and hand washing can help protect us from catching the virus. But as we reemerge from quarantine and start participating in more daily activities outside our homes, what other steps can we take to stay safe, or at least safer? Whether you’re visiting your doctor, picking up a prescription or running errands, these recommendations may offer some help.
1. Need to see your MD? Schedule a telehealth visit
Even during a global pandemic, it’s important to get the medical care you need, when you need it. However, if you’re concerned about an in-person visit, a telehealth appointment with your physician may be a great alternative.
“One of the most important things you can do to maintain your health right now is keeping up with your regular doctor’s visits and not putting off any concerning symptoms,” advises Sirisha R. Mohan, MD, a family medicine specialist at Keck Medicine of USC and clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “A great way for us providers to get an idea of what you’re experiencing is through a telehealth visit. By seeing your doctor from home, you avoid any risk of possible exposure. I highly recommend virtual visits in terms of keeping yourself as safe and risk-free as possible.”
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If you have certain conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, regularly monitoring your levels while at home is important. Mohan also recommends sharing this information with your doctor during your telehealth appointment to better gauge if you need any follow-up care.
2. Need to fill a prescription? Have a game plan
If a trip to the pharmacy is on the horizon, you may want to consider options like mail delivery or drive-through and curbside pick-up services.
If you need to fill multiple prescriptions, it may be worthwhile to pick up all your medications in the same visit to reduce the number of trips to the store. It can also help to get more of your medication at once whenever possible.
“Be sure to talk to your doctor to figure out those plans,” Mohan says.
Asking a family member, friend or neighbor to pick up your prescription may also be a helpful alternative, according to Mohan, but if you do end up having to visit the pharmacy, “make sure you have hand sanitizer,” she adds.
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3. Need to run other types of errands? Prepare in advance
What used to be everyday, run-of-the-mill errands — like going to the pharmacy, shopping for groceries and fueling up at the gas pump — require a more strategic approach to reduce our exposure to the coronavirus.
If you can, consider ordering your groceries and other essential supplies online to be delivered to your home, or using a curbside pickup service. However, if grocery shopping during the coronavirus pandemic requires an in-person visit, grab some disinfectant wipes — along with hand sanitizer and your face mask — before heading out the door.
Try to schedule your trip when the store is less busy, such as early in the morning or late in the evening. When you arrive at the store, disinfect your cart and try not to touch much else.
“If you feel like you’re touching a surface that may put you at exposure, you can always use a disinfectant wipe — something with either bleach or alcohol to disinfect that surface,” Mohan says.
During checkout, opt for contactless payment systems, if available, to reduce potential exposure.
When visiting the gas station, use a disinfectant wipe on the surfaces you touch, including the pump handle and the payment keypad. If you have disposable gloves, you can use them while fueling up your car — but be sure to put them on right before and take them off right after using the machine.
“We’re not sure what the data is on using gloves at the gas station, but if you’re worried, there’s no reason to not protect yourself,” Mohan explains.
After fueling up (whether you used gloves or not) or leaving the store, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, and when you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Keeping an open mind and a positive attitude can help us handle all these new, but necessary, precautions, Mohan adds.
“We’re all still trying to figure out what this ‘new normal’ looks and feels like, so it’s really just making sure that you partner up with your friends and neighbors — and to really just be kind to everyone. We’re all going through this together. Having to deal with something like this is a first for all us, so patience and understanding are always welcome.”
by Tina Donvito