5 ways to stay safe from COVID-19

June 30, 2020

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With the significant uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise, it is important to remember the basic principles that we can take to halt the community spread of the pandemic.

Dr. Despina Kayichian, chief medical officer for Venice Family Clinic, has been hard at work, staying on top of the latest guidance from authorities and ensuring the safety of our patients and staff during this pandemic. She shares her top five ways to stay safe from COVID-19 as some businesses re-open and people opt to leave their homes:

1. Wear a face covering

California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently issued a mandate that people wear face coverings in public.

“Wearing a face covering when you leave your home is a form of social responsibility,” Kayichian said. “You’re wearing it to protect others from any virus you might be carrying even without symptoms. It’s an act of respect and caring.”

2. Continue to practice social distancing

According to Kayichian, wearing a face covering and social distancing offers better protection from COVID-19 than just doing one or the other. She wants people to remember that social distancing is physical – it means staying at least 6 feet away from anyone who doesn’t live in your household, even if they are members of your family.

“For our community with strong family ties, this is understandably difficult,” she said. “But we need to take the same precautions – wearing a face covering and staying at least 6 feet apart – with any family members who do not live with us. For example, my parents have been confined to their home this entire time, so their exposure risk is lower. But I work in health care, so my risk is higher. I don’t go to their house, because I may inadvertently expose them to the virus that causes COVID-19. Because everyone’s risk is different, we need to maintain physical distance at all times and look after each other.”

3. Wash your hands frequently

Keep your hands clean by washing them with soap and water. “How long you wash your hands for matters,” Kayichian said. “If you time yourself you will notice that 20 seconds is a long time, but you need to make sure you get every part of your hands and fingers.” When washing your hands isn’t an option, use hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol and rub your hands together for 20 seconds until dry.

Kayichian doesn’t recommend wearing gloves to protect yourself from getting COVID-19. “Wearing gloves provides a false sense of security that your hands are clean,” she said. “You can’t wash your hands when you are wearing gloves, yet you touch dirty surfaces with the gloves on, then you might touch your face and eyes. Not wearing gloves reminds you to wash your hands often.”

4. If you must, gather outside

While staying at home is still highly recommended, if you’re going to be a part of a gathering, do it outside. “With COVID-19 cases on the rise, it is best to avoid any gatherings,” Kayichian said. “But if you must get together with family or friends, it’s best to do so outside in the open air, while still maintaining distance and wearing a face covering.”

Kayichian said to also avoid handshakes, fist bumps or touching other people in any way.

5. Don’t share food, drinks or utensils

If you’re getting together with friends or family – while outside, staying at least 6 feet apart and wearing a face covering, of course – make sure that everyone has their own plates, cups, utensils and serving pieces to avoid cross contamination, Kayichian said. The same goes for food and drink.

“Contagious saliva droplets from an ill person, or person carrying the virus unknowingly, can land on cups, utensils or prepared food,” she said. “Therefore everyone should bring their own food and drink.”