Last update: 3/13/2020. This is an ongoing story and will be updated with the latest information.
A new virus called coronavirus, or COVID-19, has been all over the news. Hearing how quickly the illness has spread from country to country and to different regions of the United States can provoke a lot of fear, especially in parents. While the news might seem scary, there are some simple steps that you can take to prevent your family from getting or spreading coronavirus.
Additional information about COVID-19 can be found here.
Tips to prevent coronavirus
Wash your hands
Good hand washing, or hand hygiene, is your first line of defense against illnesses. Make sure you and your family wash your hands often and follow these simple steps:
- Wash your hands with warm water.
- Lather with soap.
- Rub hands palm to palm, scrub between fingers, under nails, front and back of hands, rub thumbs and wrists for 20 seconds.
- Rinse clean and dry well with a towel.
More tips about hand hygiene can be found here: Why is hand washing so important to prevent coronavirus?
“Any cleaning is better than no cleaning,” said Wendy Berg, infection preventionist at Children’s Minnesota.
At home, you can use your favorite household cleaner to clean surfaces like kitchen and bathroom counters, faucets, door knobs, and any other frequently used and touched surfaces. You do not need to buy any special cleaning products for the coronavirus.
Social distancing is important to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. This simply means to try and distance yourself from others physically. Ways to social distance yourself include: Standing 6 feet away from others, not shaking hands and avoiding crowds.
Take care of your body
You can take some over the counter medications to treat symptoms of the coronavirus as needed; but the best course of action is prevention. Make sure to get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated and wash your hands to keep your body healthy.
Cover your cough
Coronavirus and other viral illnesses like influenza can be spread through coughs and sneezes. When someone coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets go into the air and spread the virus to surfaces and other people around you. To avoid this, cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then wash your hands as soon as possible afterward.
Toss your tissues
When you do cough or sneeze into a tissue, be sure to toss it in the trash right away. It can be tempting to let them build up near your chair or bed when you feel really ill, but this can spread the virus to surfaces and people around you. You can keep a small garbage bin near you or your child to make tossing your tissues as easy as possible.
As of March 5, 2020, there are not travel restrictions within the United States or to common spring break destinations like Mexico. But keep close watch on travel advisories if you have a trip planned or if you are planning a trip. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has up-to-date travel information that can help you thoughtfully plan a trip or decide to postpone one.
Tips to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus)
What if I think I have coronavirus?
If you think your child has COVID-19, we urge you to stay home. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of the illness to other people. Do not go to your health care provider’s office or an emergency department if you think you have been infected with coronavirus or if you have the symptoms of COVID-19.
If you have concerning symptoms and think you or your child have been infected with COVID-19, call ahead before going to your health care provider’s office or emergency department. Your provider will help you with next steps and will direct you to the right health care facility to determine the need for testing.
If you have any questions, please call the Minnesota Department of Health hotline at 651-201-3920.