Reducing Risk of Contracting the Coronavirus

The current estimate for death rate of those infected with COVID-19 is between 2 and 3.4% which varies widely based on numerous factors.  Men appear slightly higher at risk with 2.8% mortality rate vs. 1.7% for women.  Risk factors include the elderly, medically frail patients, and those with diabetes, high blood pressure, COPD, pneumonia and other breathing problems. Death rates are lowest for those under 30 years of age, and highest for those over 80. According the the Center for Disease Control (CDC), as of March 4th, more than 100 cases of Coronavirus have been reported in the U.S. and nine Americans have died from the disease. There are currently no confirmed cases in South Carolina according to DHEC.  

Although an airborne virus, you are not likely to breath in the virus directly therefore surgical masks are unlikely to help. However they are likely to keep you from touching your face as much, which can help. Understanding how the virus is transmitted from person to person can help us take some simple steps to reduce exposure and prevent infection. The virus is shed from infected hosts in water droplets from coughing or sneezing, which then contaminates surrounding surfaces. Others come in contact with these surfaces, usually with the hands, and then touch their own face transmitting the virus. Mucous membranes of the face include mouth, nose and eyes and allow the virus to bypass the protective barrier of the skin and allow passage to the lungs. The coronavirus then attacks the lung tissue and transmits infection. 

To reduce the risk of catching the virus, practice rigid hygiene:  

  • Regularly wash hands with soap and water
  • Lather and scrub entire hand, fingernails, between fingers and back of hand for at least 20 seconds
  • Hand sanitizer isn’t as good, but better than nothing. Use at least 60% alcohol based sanitizer for 20 seconds or longer
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Use closed knuckle, fist, forearm or elbow to open doors, ring doorbells, flip light switches, etc.
  • Use sanitizing wipes on shopping carts
  • Wear rubber glove when pumping gas
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Don’t chew your fingernails
  • Avoid shaking hands – use fist or elbow bump, waving, footshake as alternative greeting
  • Avoid close contact with others for a period of time
  • Make sure you and those around you cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Keep your distance from sick people
  • Vacationing? – consider your destination, take the path less traveled
  • Postpone trips to the Orient, Italy, and other at risk areas
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell.


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