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A woman washes her hands.

Keep Healthy with Good Hygiene

With the domestic spread of coronavirus COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is advising the public that the best way to protect yourself and others is to avoid the risk of exposure by using good hygiene, practicing social distancing, keeping away from those who are sick, and staying home if you are sick. Although this may seem obvious, best practices that prevent the spread of viruses are often overlooked.

Now is the time to make sure your hand hygiene is effective and working to help you reduce the risk of COVID-19, or any virus in the community this season:

Hand washing

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty and make sure to scrub all parts of your hands including between fingers and around nail beds.

When you can’t wash, sanitize

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. With concerns about COVID-19, many local retailers are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked with hand sanitizer or are making these supplies available on an “ask-first” basis. Make sure to ask a store employee how or when these products will be available if you’re having trouble finding hand sanitizer.

Cover up and wipe down

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and shared surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Minimize exposure

Avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home if you are sick, and practice social distancing. Talk to your workplace supervisor about your employer’s plan to address COVID-19 and what to do if you or a coworker get sick.

To mask or not to mask

Follow CDC guidelines for using facemasks, as they do little to protect from COVID-19 in a public setting. If you are well, please save facemasks for those who need them most: care providers and people who are sick. Facemasks should be used by those who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also important for healthcare workers and people who are taking care of someone with respiratory symptoms like coughing and sneezing in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).

The CDC’s latest COVID-19 updates and guidelines for prevention can easily be found at bartonhealth.org. If you are experiencing respiratory illness symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, coughing, sneezing, a runny nose, or you suspect that you or a loved one may have COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider’s office or call Barton Health’s COVID-19 Health Line at 530.600.1999 first before visiting a medical facility.


Dawn Evans, MSN, MBA, RN, PHN, CPPS, CPHQ  is the Director of Patient Safety at Barton Health.