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COLUMN: So now you're scared? Here's what to do

COLUMN: So now you're scared? Here's what to do

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So NOW you’re scared of catching a virus? Yes, I’m desensitized to all the hype surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a provider on the front lines, I’m at risk for catching Hepatitis A, B, and C, HIV, Tuberculosis, COVID-19, Influenza, Ebola, and Dengue (believe it or not) just to name a few potential exposures I have encountered. This is the career path I chose, therefore, I’m well aware of the risks that accompany this job.

Currently, it is safe to insinuate, most people are more conscious of hand hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), and social distancing. Where was all this awareness prior to COVID-19? The mainstream media and social media have created a paralyzing fear in people about COVID-19 by reporting the increased positive cases in the US along with the number of deaths but fail to mention the number of people who have contracted the disease and survived. I contracted COVID-19, thankfully it was a mild case. Each day in medicine, we are learning the proper precautions to take and what medicines to use for treatment not just for COVID-19 but other viruses as well.

Instead of panicking from what the media has portrayed and running out spending so much money on toilet paper or other items that you may not need at this time or really can’t afford, stick to the basics of hygiene. Most germs that can cause infections are spread by people’s actions. Now local grocery stores, restaurants and most other businesses are now cleaner than before the pandemic as they are wiping down grocery carts between uses, handing out paper menus to be thrown away after use or providing a code for you to scan from your phone to see the menu or wiping down doors frequently.

I encourage you to continue to be aware of proper hand hygiene, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, use PPE, and social distance when necessary. Standard precautions are a set of rules intended to prevent the transmission of disease through blood and bodily fluids. These precautions are meant to protect you as well as others surrounding you. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16% and the use of an alcohol gel hand sanitizer for example in a classroom, provided an overall reduction in nonattendance due to infection by 19.8% among 16 elementary schools and 6,000 students.

CDC guidelines and policy indicates that alcohol-based hand rubs are the most effective agents for decreasing the number of bacteria on the hands of people, antiseptic soaps and detergents are the next effective agent, and non-antimicrobial soaps are the least effective. Per the CDC failure to perform the appropriate standard precautions are considered the leading cause of health-care-associated infections and the spread of multi-resistant organisms that are recognized as a contributor to outbreaks.

Just remember, there are way more viruses and diseases out there lurking about then just the ones I mentioned above, and it is very important to utilize the basics of hygiene using standard precautions to help reduce the chances of catching or spreading these viruses or diseases to yourself or others.

Lisa Kelly is a Nurse Practitioner for Charlotte Radiology. She holds an MSN degree at Duke University School of Nursing and currently a student at Duke University School of Nursing in the Doctorate of Nursing Practice Program.

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