safety tips for shopping

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At a press conference on May 6, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that 66% of new hospitalizations in New York for Covid-19 were people who stayed at home.

“It’s a surprise: the vast majority of people were at home,” said Cuomo. “We thought they might be taking public transportation, and we took special precautions when it came to public transportation, but in fact we didn’t, because these people were literally at home. “

The “shocking” data comes from a survey of more than 100 New York hospitals and about 1,300 new patients, Cuomo said.

This begs the question: “Of the people who stay at home, how strictly do they stay at home?” Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, which focuses on risk assessment of infectious diseases, told CNBC Make It.

It is possible that by entering the ninth and tenth weeks of fairly extreme prevention measures, people may feel tired or become too relaxed, says Joseph Vinetz, professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and physician researcher in infectious diseases .

“Just because we are tired doesn’t mean the virus cares,” he says. “Viruses have no emotion; they just do their thing. “

According to Cuomo, “it largely depends on what you do to protect yourself. “

So from masks to grocery stores, here is a checklist of steps that epidemiologists and infectious disease experts say you should definitely follow, even if you live in a reopening place:

Use masks with care

Since the beginning of April, the Centers for Disease Control has suggested that people wear masks or cloth blankets outside the home to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

In addition to having a face mask to use, “people have to be very careful about how they put them on and how they take them off,” says Morse. Wash your hands before putting your mask on your face.

Fit is key: your mask should cover your nose and mouth perfectly, but comfortably.

“There is a thread running over your nose that you have to mold over your nose,” says Vinetz. “So you have to go back [the mask] under your chin. “

” It’s not hard [to wear a mask], but somehow someone has to show people how to do it right, “he adds. (This useful video shows how to wear a mask.) Indeed, wearing a mask can be somewhat uncomfortable, but both for effective prevention and for health reasons, it is important to keep it on throughout your outing. , instead of removing it for breaks or talking to people.

When you take off your mask, you need to take it off without touching the front and wash your hands afterwards, says Morse. ” Yes [masks] become contaminated and you touch them – even if your hands are clean – when you then touch your face, you can get infected, “he says.

Reusable cloth masks should be cleaned regularly, in accordance with the CDC, which means after every time you wear it, or whenever it gets dirty. You can wash the masks in a washing machine with hot water and tumble dry them at a high temperature.

Avoid people on the street

Most of us have heard that we must be at least six feet from other people in public. “It’s not a magic number,” but it is believed to be the distance necessary to prevent respiratory droplets from reaching you if someone sneezes or coughs, says Morse.

Physical distance can be difficult to find. “There is a limit to what you can, especially in New York, keep away from,” says Morse.

Try to avoid looking at people face to face when you’re outside in crowded places, says Morse. “It sounds strange,” but it prevents you from breathing, he adds. You can also try to stagger the way you walk so that you are side by side with others, rather than directly behind someone.

Continue to wash your hands diligently

Hand hygiene is always extremely important, as it is easy to accidentally touch your face and get infected.

“You always want to make sure your hands are clean,” says Morse. Wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer at all times, he says.

For example, wash your hands after using the toilet; after touching the garbage; and before, during and after food preparation. “Also after you hit something outside and come back inside,” he said. This includes touching door handles, opening packages or pressing the elevator buttons.

Wearing gloves can give you a false sense of security, says Vinetz. If you wear gloves, you should assume that your hands are dirty and avoid touching your face. “If someone is wearing gloves, I look at them and say,” You are infected, don’t touch anything, “” he said.

Be strategic when shopping

When shopping for essentials or frequenting businesses when they start to open, you should always be very careful.

To begin with, you should definitely not venture out if you are sick, according to the CDC.

Make fewer trips to the store to reduce the amount of exposure you have to other people and order your food and medicine for delivery if possible (and don’t accept deliveries in person), according to the CDC. Choose to pay for your items online or by phone and use a contactless payment method if you can.

If you go to the store, stay at least six feet from others and wear a mask or cloth mask, says the CDC. Some stores have set a “safety distance” on the floor in the checkout lines and wipes available for customers to disinfect shopping baskets. But even so, you should not touch your eyes, nose or mouth for the duration of your trip.

When you are finished shopping, use a hand sanitizer and wash your hands with soap and water when you are at home.

Handle packages and groceries with care

Many people rely on deliveries for shopping and other supplies with minimal contact. But there is evidence that the Covid-19 virus can survive on surfaces for hours or days.

When you receive a package or take a shopping bag home, Morse suggests opening it outside your home. “Leave it outside the door, then with clean hands I take out the items that were inside,” he said. If the contents seem to need to be cleaned, you can wipe them with a disinfectant, he says, but it’s not completely necessary.

Put the items on a surface that you can easily clean up after, and of course, wash your hands, says Morse. “There is not much you can do, you know, within reason,” he says.

Follow the elevator label

Getting in the elevator with someone is relatively short to be exposed to germs, but you still have to be careful. “Minimize the number of people in an elevator,” says Morse. The elevators are slightly less crowded while people stay at home, so you have to wait until you can do a ride alone or with as few people as possible, he says. And wear a face mask in the elevator, even if you’re riding solo.

Pressing buttons with a key or other inanimate object can’t hurt, but you should always wash your hands when you get home, he adds.

Keep your distance, even at the park

Despite the social distancing rules, there have been photos of groups of people gathering in busy parks, even in hot spots like New York City, which have raised concerns.

It’s okay to go to the parks or head outside for some relief, says Vinetz. “You are outside with air movement and a very low density of people,” he said.

But you should always wear a mask when you are outdoors and stay physically away from anyone you meet, he says. If you are meeting with friends or family outside, you should stay at least six feet apart and be strict about it. Make sure your friends or family members have been symptom-free for at least 14 days before you meet.

If this is not possible, it is best to stay at home and consider a virtual meeting place instead.

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