While the new coronavirus continues to make its impact felt, there are steps everyone can take to help decrease its spread.
Some are simple: Avoid touching your face. Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Cough into your elbow or a tissue. Replace handshakes with other non-contact forms of greeting. Stay home if you are sick.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health experts offer a host of other tips for helping stem the spread of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections.
"For example, take a natural approach to ventilation by opening windows, adjusting air flow and spending more time outdoors," says Maggie Hagan, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention at Ascension Via Christi in Wichita.
Don't share food or beverages and when eating out, avoid self-serve options such as buffets or salad bars.
Have a sick member of the family? Have one family member provide care in a designated and well-ventilated space. If someone in your household is older or has underlying health conditions, maintain a separate space that is his or hers alone.
"This is good advice whenever someone in the home has any kind of viral respiratory infection," says Dr. Hagan.
While everyone is being encouraged to avoid large group gatherings and crowds, this is especially important for at-risk individuals. So consider reaching out to vulnerable friends or neighbors and offering to do their shopping or errands for them.
Leverage technology to limit potential exposure such as using online shopping, mobile pay vs. cash, home delivery, telemedicine and virtual urgent care offerings such as Ascension Online Care. Additionally, employers are encouraged to use the technology at their disposal to hold virtual meetings and limit non-essential business travel.
"Should you have a loved one in the hospital, using FaceTime, Skype or other web-based platforms is a good way to connect without sharing germs," says Dr. Hagan.