Just a couple months in, and 2020 has already been a year to remember; unfortunately not for the best reasons. The world lost basketball legend Kobe Bryant in a shocking accident, coronavirus has killed thousands and is still spreading, and now the stock market has plummeted into bear market territory. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going! We’ll get through this together.

While many of these factors are beyond our control, you CAN take some steps to ensure that you reduce your own risk of getting sick from coronavirus. Follow these steps below to do your part in stopping the spread of illness.

Wash your hands

Seriously. This is step #1 in combatting the spread of most viruses, and COVID-19 is no different. Wash you hands with warm water and soap. That doesn’t mean just wash your hands after using the restroom – that’s a given (we hope). This means washing your hands as frequently as possible! Out to eat for lunch? Wash your hands at the restaurant before and after. Just got out of a meeting at work? Wash your hands!

It’s easy to remember to wash our hands when our hands are actually dirty – but you need to force yourself to remember to wash them anyways. Don’t wait until you’re in the restroom to wash your hands out of convenience. You should be taking trips to the restroom solely to wash your hands. This is sound advice for any regular flu season, but especially now in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Do this and you will drastically reduce your risk for contracting COVID-19 or any other flu-like virus for that matter.

Carry hand sanitizer

You may or may not have heard the controversy about this one. There is some debate as to whether or not hand sanitizer kills certain types of germs, like those that contain coronavirus. Well the fact is hand sanitizer kills some germs, and some is better than none. We recommend carrying a small travel size bottle of hand sanitizer when you are out in public and unable to use a sink to fully wash your hands. Use it often after touching germ-y things like door handles, screens, or other people (no offense!).

*Stop touching your face!*

We don’t get sick from shaking hands with a sick person, we get sick from touching our face afterwards!

You might be reading that and thinking “that’s weird advice – I don’t touch my face that often” as you sit there rubbing your chin! Case closed. The average person touches his/her face thousands of times per day! There are numerous studies on this behavior and its implications for the contraction of illnesses.

We don’t get sick from shaking hands with a sick person, we get sick from touching our face afterwards! This is why washing your hands is so important. Germs don’t seep in though pores on our hands, they enter through our eyes, mouth and nose. As hard as you try, at some point in a day you will touch your face: to scratch your chin, rub your eyes, or pick your nose.

Try your best to be conscious of this behavior and limit how often you touch your face. Fight the urge! And certainly refrain from licking your fingers after eating something delicious.

Wear a mask (if you insist)

Wearing is mask is not as vital as the previous advice, but it’s just one extra precaution. Read about wearing a mask from the World Health Organization (WHO) here. They say only individuals who are in direct contact with an infected person needs to wear a mask. Not all masks are equal though. The recommended mask that will actually keep you safe from COVID-19 is called N-95 respiratory mask. These masks have been flying off the shelf and reselling at crazy prices. If you can’t get your hands on one, don’t stress.

An important note about masks though is to use them properly. If you use it wrong, you might be doing more harm than good. Since your hands are up near your face to put a mask on, you could actually be spreading more germs than you’re blocking. Before putting a mask on (and taking it off), wash your hands thoroughly. And don’t think a mask lets you off the hook for hand washing. The WHO states wearing a mask is only effective when these other precautions are also followed.

Don’t panic. Get rest. Live your life.

Our final tip is this: don’t let the fear of coronavirus stop you from living and enjoying your life. As things stand right now (2/27/20) the outbreak has yet to affect the US in a major way. This may change, but so far there is relatively low risk of healthy individuals contracting the illness here in the US.

Experts say we could be dealing with the virus for years to come, and vaccines may be months away, so we’re not quite in the clear yet. But if you follow the advice above and limit your travel, you should have nothing to worry about. Live your life as you normally would (but wash your hands more and touch your face less) and get plenty of rest.

Thank you for reading! Knowledge is power, and learning is key to living a better life.

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