Staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic can be complicated by a number of factors, especially if you are a Medicare recipient. Many Medicare recipients may be at a higher risk of developing severe and life-threatening symptoms if they contract COVID-19, so it’s even more important for you to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local agencies.
Even though the coronavirus is passed from person to person, there are simple things you can do every day to stay safe and healthy.
Staying Healthy and Safe at Home
Preventing the spread of coronavirus in homes without high-risk individuals or individuals already diagnosed with COVID-19 should involve frequent hand washing and surface disinfecting. This is particularly true when someone arrives home from an outing in public. Hand sanitizer kept by every door can help serve as a reminder for you to disinfect your hands as soon as you get home, but you should also thoroughly wash your hands with soap and running water every time you return home.
If you work or live in a densely populated area where you may be exposed to COVID-19 more frequently, you may also reduce the chance of spreading the disease via surface contact by immediately washing your shoes and clothes after each trip outside of the home. Though infection via this route is far less likely than it is via airborne droplets or personal contact with an person who has COVID-19, but many people, especially those who work in hospitals where COVID-19 patients are treated, feel this abundance of caution is warranted.
Disinfecting every surface in the home may not seem necessary for households who do not have immunocompromised members and who maintain effective standards for hand washing and personal hygiene, but cleaning with disinfectants can add an extra layer of protection. \
Medicare recipients who reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities may have extra precautions in place that prevent them from receiving visitors or leaving the premises of their community unless absolutely necessary. This helps caregivers keep the premises of the community as safe as possible for such a vulnerable demographic.
Additionally, your household should not need to practice social distancing habits in the home itself unless a member of the household is being screened for or has been diagnosed with COVID-19. In those cases, wearing face masks while in the same room and avoiding personal contact with a person who may have, or is known to have, COVID-19 can help everyone stay as safe as possible.
Staying Healthy and Safe at Work or School
In many parts of the United States, schools have closed for regular classes as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19. Students, staff and faculty members who are still in school can stay safe with rigorous standards regarding regular hand-washing, disinfecting and keeping large group gatherings to a minimum. If group gatherings cannot be avoided, they should be held in large outdoor spaces or indoor spaces that are open and well-ventilated.
Regular food-handling practices already demand a high standard for sterilization and minimizing the risk of cross-contamination between surfaces, tools and utensils, humans and the food they’re serving and served. During a pandemic, these standards may be made all the stricter with social distancing practices put in place for both the cafeteria workers and the students as they move through breakfast and lunch lines.
For those who leave their home to go to work during a pandemic, they should follow all the same hand-washing and hygiene practices for home or school. Depending on what type of work environment you experience, you may have additional steps to secure your health and safety, including the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Use your employer’s guidelines for wearing PPE at the workplace should they provide it.
Staying Healthy and Safe in Public
It can be difficult to totally limit public outings while attempting to stay safe and healthy during a global pandemic. Although many services can deliver goods to the home, some appointments, such as medically necessary services, cannot be avoided. When you are out in public, make sure to be aware of how near you are to others while standing in line or walking through a hallway or aisle. While only some medical-grade face masks are successful at preventing airborne infection from COVID-19, any breathable, non-toxic face covering can help minimize your risk of breathing in droplets that may carry the disease.
Unless you are able to practice sterile glove-wearing techniques, which involve frequently changing gloves and sterilizing your hands in between each change, it may be best to not wear them and remember to not touch your eyes, nose, mouth or the rest of your face until you are able to thoroughly wash your hands. Wearing the same pair of gloves while touching multiple surfaces can still spread the disease to yourself and others, though some people wear a pair of gloves in public as a reminder to keep their hands away from their own face.
For updates regarding COVID-19 information, prevention, testing, and treatment, visit the official CDC website. If you have any concerns that you’ve been around someone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus, or if you experiencing symptoms, please call your doctor immediately.