Coronavirus Protection

There’s an excellent chance you already know everything I’m about to write. If so, that’s great. I ask that you check what I’ve presented and then add ideas that I’ve missed in the comment section. I say that because I anticipate I will forget to address some things, and the idea here is to provide a forum that helps keep people alive.

So, first things first: that six feet / two meter social distancing you’ve heard so much about? It’s a guideline, not a rule. Droplets of fluid can travel much further than six feet from a body. The six foot guideline was developed in response to the normal amount of viruses which are required to transmit a disease… about a thousand. Researchers have found that, on average, small droplets of exhaled fluid have about 20 viruses in them. The six foot range is about where a person inhaling is likely to draw in 50 droplets. 50×20=1000, so… six feet. However, in this case we’re dealing with an unusually contagious disease, so a) small droplets may contain an unusually high number of viruses and b) fewer viruses may need to be received in order to catch the disease and c) some sneezes are stronger than average. What all this adds up to is that standing six feet away from someone as they sneeze or yell or sing… anything that projects droplets… may not be effective.

Because this is a dispersal from a central point, additional distance matters, it’s not a directly linear function (sorry about the math.) The key to remember is that being at five feet is far less safe than being at six… and being at seven feet is far more safe. Then you have the problem of wind. If you’re outside and downwind of someone, a gust may bring much of the cloud directly to you. So, “social distancing parties” where everyone stands six feet away from each other? Still a bad idea.

Inside, there’s another problem: aerosols. Some particles are so small that they can get kicked up by air currents. This is not normally a problem because people are unlikely to get 1,000 viruses in this way. But aerosols happen simply through breathing, and as a person stands in an area, every successive breath pumps more of the viruses into the air. They can then swirl around for hours, provided there is continued movement inside the location… and in places like storefronts, there is almost always some movement.

Left alone, the droplets will fall to the ground… or onto nearby objects, like groceries, laundry, flesh and door handles. They can then live for a duration dependent upon the material they’re on, the temperature and the humidity. A good rule of thumb seems to be three days on most surfaces, extended in areas of mild temperature and high humidity.

So, you want to minimize your exposure? Stay out of stores if you can, and if you must go into one keep your distance… not just from a person, but from where that person has recently been. Give the non-aerosol drops a chance to hit the ground.

There are a few liquids which have been shown to kill the virus. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipe fluid are obvious. Similarly effective are bleach, ethanol and hydrogen peroxide. If you can, wipe or spray down groceries as they come into your house; do the same with the mail and deliveries. If you can’t, consider setting aside one area (preferably with high heat and low humidity) where you can set non-perishable mail and groceries away for three days.

Masks are important because of the aerosol threat, but there are too few medical-grade masks available. Researchers have found that for particles the size of the novel coronavirus, the most effective mask is made with a doubled tea towel (aka dishtowel… the researchers were British) but that issues associated with it (very bulky, unpleasant to breathe through, hard to get a seal) inspired them to recommend instead a simple t-shirt material mask, perhaps doubled.

Personally, when I’m going into a store these days, I wear a homemade mask created from a doubled dishtowel. I can handle the discomfort and the weird looks.

The weird looks are also because I have on not just gloves, but swim goggles. The virus doesn’t care if it’s inhaled, it just wants to be in my body, and the eyes are available orifices to contract the disease. Keeping the virus outside the goggles prevents that. In a similar way, I make certain I have no open cuts that aren’t covered tightly with a band-aid.

Everyone knows about wearing gloves, but few think about how and when to take them off. Remember: everything that gloved hand is contaminated. So wearing the gloves into the market, then driving home with them, has contaminated the wheel. Pulling them off by the fingers also risks contaminating the other hand. One effective method is to slip a finger underneath the lip of the glove, grabbing the lip without touching the skin. From there pull the glove, inside-out, off of the hand. Then use the interior of the other glove to repeat the process on the remaining hand.

Curbside delivery is great for those trying to avoid going into a grocery store. Home delivery is wonderful too. With both of them, potential indoor trips are reduced to near zero. Groceries aren’t the only things being delivered… many places still allow take-out food for restaurants. Because coronaviruses tend to break down after a few minutes over 131 Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius) we always pop our delivery and take-out food into the oven for a few minutes, giving it some time at 170 degrees… a safe temperature for paper, cardboard and most plastics.

While you’re out during those rare necessity trips, remember the most dangerous place to pick up coronavirus for anyone not in the health care industry: gas pumps. Heavily used and rarely cleaned, they’re best touched only with a glove, with the glove either discarded or set aside for a few days afterward. Similarly, any touchpad or keyboard is a likely haven for the germs and should only be touched with a glove on.

Just because you’ve tried to keep yourself uncontaminated, mistakes do happen. We brush up against surfaces. The best defense against that is the combination of aggressively washing hands and simply changing clothes when you get home.

If all of this seems obvious, good. But there’s one other key point to make. Health care professionals are getting hit with this disease all over the country. They aren’t new at protecting themselves; they’re experts.
Even if we’ve had training, most of us are out of practice at keeping ourselves free of contamination. If exhaustion and minor relaxation of their guard is catching some of them, the rest of us should be particularly wary.

I would truly love to hear what I’ve missed, because we’re all in this together and we’re trying to get through it. Any new tips than can be provided would be appreciated.

About the opinions in this article…

Any opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website or of the other authors/contributors who write for it.

About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.

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