When it comes to the novel coronavirus, experts agree that everyday actions such as wearing a mask and staying home if you're sick are key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. But there's more. Here are 25 steps that doctors, experts and public health organizations recommend to protect your health — and the health of those around you.
1. Wear a mask. When you are around people who aren't part of your household — in public or not — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a nonmedical-grade face covering. Fabric masks and coverings can be purchased or fashioned from a variety of household materials — like this no-sew, DIY version from a sock.
2. Stay 6 feet from others. Social distancing isn't always easy, but it's another CDC recommendation. Whether you're at a local park or a grocery store, keep your distance from other people in public. Why? It helps slow the transmission of COVID-19, which is thought to spread mainly when respiratory droplets from an infected person's mouth or nose land in the mouth or nose of someone nearby.
3. Keep your hands clean. Yes, it's super basic. But make regular handwashing (like before cooking a meal and after using the restroom) a part of your routine. Pretend you are a surgeon, and lather with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. No soap and water? Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Also important: Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
4. Turn to trusted sources. It's easy to come across myths and misinformation about the coronavirus — especially online. For up-to-date, evidence-based information, visit trusted websites like those maintained by the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as AARP's coronavirus page. WHO also maintains an active COVID-19 "myth-busters” list. For example: Bleach and other disinfectants can help sanitize surfaces, but they should never be ingested or injected.
5. Go with “grocery alternatives.” Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist and professor at North Carolina State University, says that older adults and those at higher risk of COVID-19 complications should opt for alternatives to in-person grocery shopping. That includes delivery services, curbside pickup, or asking a family member or friend to shop on your behalf. If you need to shop in person, look for chains offering special hours for older customers.
6. Give online banking a go. Instead of visiting a local brick-and-mortar branch, create an online account via your bank's or credit union's website or app. This will allow you to perform most day-to-day banking activities — like checking account balances, making transfers and paying bills — from home, or wherever you have access to your smartphone or computer.
7. Disinfect at the gas pump. When it's time to fill up your tank, the CDC recommends using disinfecting wipes on gas pump handles and buttons before you touch them. Afterward, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol (and wash your hands again when you get home).
8. Go cash-free. Paying with cash requires handing off money to a cashier — plus there's no easy way to clean bills. Whenever possible, pay with a card (which can be safely swabbed with a disinfecting wipe) or look into touchless payment options, which let you scan your card or smartphone to pay — no swiping or keypad contact required.