A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Keven Moore: What you can do to avoid catching coronavirus; we live in global world, so be careful

Because of the globalization in our world today, the first case of the viral epidemic called the coronavirus has been diagnosed in the state of Kentucky and the Governor has since declared a state of emergency for the state to qualify for federal funding.

Personally, I am not any more concerned with the virus than I am the flu, while others will tell you it is worse and that this can grow into a full-fledged pandemic. I am pretty sure that we all are not all going to die. We should all relax and be prepared.

Being a bit of a pepper and risk management and safety professional who always errs on the safe side of caution, I believe that regardless of the degree of risk the coronavirus may present, this is a necessary exercise many of us need to go through to better prepare for something far worse.

The Center for Disease and Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have yet to declare this a pandemic; however, a mild case of panic has started to set it. Grocery store parking lots this weekend were full and by the end of the day, certain supplies were already sold out.

While out running some errands, I happened to stop in at Sams to continue to add to my collection of coronavirus supplies. I intended to buy some additional toilet paper in the event that my adult kids decide to descend unannounced to the Moore bunker, but there was none to be found.

While navigating through the aisles, however, I did happen to have my first encounter with a mother and daughter wearing surgical masks inside the store. Then yesterday, while out visiting a client, the president of the company refused to shake my hand and instead offered me an elbow bump.

In addition to the travel industry, the coronavirus will greatly affect a variety of industries from the restaurant, bars, tourism, retail, apparel, movie theatres, taxi and rideshare companies, casinos, sports and concert venues, real estate, …etc.

On the flip side, online shopping will go through the roof and grocery stores, and manufacturers and suppliers of hand sanitizers, surgical gloves, toilet paper, and face masks suppliers will all have record sales. By now we all know that with the potential spread of the coronavirus that we should begin to practice social distancing strategies, avoid touching our face and that we should be washing our hands every 15 minutes.

The key to washing your hands is to remember to scrub for at least 20 seconds. You should focus on cleaning your fingertips and underneath your nails while washing with bacterial soap and warm water.

We are also being encouraged to avoid mass gatherings and meetings; businesses are asking employees to begin holding and proposing conference calls and video conferencing whenever possible. Limit face-to-face contact (e.g. handshaking, sitting in meetings, office layout, shared workstations) among employees and between employees and customers to maintain 6-foot distancing from one another.

We all know that we should avoid touching our face or rubbing our eyes to avoid the spread of the virus, but as soon as I started writing this article I have had the impulse to touch my face on at least a half dozen times. Touching your face is a subconscious behavior, and according to an article in the www.aijijournal.com, a 2015 study estimates that the average person touches his face 23 times an hour.

Short of wearing a dog cone around your face, it’s a very hard thing to stop doing and with allergy season just around the corner I just know that it’s a matter of days before I infect myself with this coronavirus.

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com

Luckily for me though is that I don’t bite my nails. But according to statistics, nearly 25% of the world’s population has this habit, so therefore I estimate that 250,000,000 around the world are going to have a hard time avoiding this virus if it spreads into their neighborhood.

They say that if you were lucky enough to get your hands on some surgical masks before the hysteria set in, that they do not prevent you from catching the coronavirus; and only protect those that have it from spreading it. However, those surgical masks are an excellent thing to wear to remind you not to touch your nose or mouth and are worth their weight in gold for that very reason.

Here are some additional ways to avoid touching your face:

• Wear a scarf around your face as a reminder
• Occupy your hands with something like a stress ball.
• Sit on your hands
• Leave sticky notes on your computer monitor, car, bathroom or any place you are going to be for extended periods as a reminder
• Wear gloves as a reminder.

My wife the nurse has always practiced good infection control. As for me, I only become a germaphobe every flu season for about 2-3 months and will always avoid shaking hands with that church-greeter standing at the front entrance with his or her hand out.

When I get on elevators I now try to use the back of my knuckle instead of my finger.
After I find myself touching a gas pump, a door handle, an ATM machine, car-wash entry pad, I try to immediately wash or sanitize my hands. Since I don’t carry a purse, I now have a bottle of hand sanitizer sitting in my car drink holder, on my desk at the office and if I can find a bottle on a lanyard, I would start wearing around my neck.

We all know how infectious public restrooms can be and that we should wash our hands after each use, but there are some other highly infectious places to avoid:

Grocery Stores/Retail Stores/Banks and Pharmacies – Since money exchanges hands in these places you should try to avoid handling cash and coins and begin using apple pay, debit or credit card. If you use a shopping cart you should use the antibacterial wipes at the front entrances to clean it off before use. If you touch stair or escalator handrails, self-checkout station screens, a pen on a chain, the pen to sign a purchase receipt, the credit card station pen, water faucet…etc., you should immediately wash or sanitize your hands.

Restaurants – We’ve all seen the signs requiring restaurant employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom, but do they? If a full-fledge coronavirus pandemic occurs, I will be avoiding restaurants altogether. It is my opinion that food handlers, cooks and servers should all wearing surgical masks because I don’t want them breathing, coughing or sneezing near my food. The fact is restaurants are very commonplace for germs to spread. If you touch menus, condiment dispensers, salt & pepper shakers, ketchup or hot sauce bottles I would suggest washing or sanitizing your hands afterward. I would further recommend avoiding letting your children play in that Mcdonald’s playroom, and if you carry a purse or a handbag remember wherever you are setting it down could also spread the virus.

Work/Office –  Printers, phones, desks, keyboards, fax machines, mail, manufacturing controls, doorknobs, handrails, light switches, tables, break room countertops, water coolers handles, refrigerator handles, coffee pot handles, Keurig coffee maker controls, sugar and creamer containers, doorknobs and handles, light switches, control buttons, remote controls in the break room or waiting room, conference room chairs and tables…etc. are all sources of infection. You should wipe as many of these surfaces down whenever possible and wash and sanitize your hands after touching any of them.

Hotels –  Upon checking in, if your room doesn’t seem clean you should ask the manager for a different room. You should pack your antibacterial wipes and wipe down all doorknobs, dresser handles, surfaces, phones, remote controls, irons,. .. etc., when you first check-in.   

Movie Theaters –  This is another place where people congregate for a couple of hours at a time and probably should be avoided during a pandemic. But if you chose to go, you should plan to go during matinee hours when there are fewer people, sit away from others, wipe your seat down and wash your or sanitize hands after leaving. 

Car: Rideshares, Rentals, and Taxis – If you rely on cabs, rental cars or even popular ride-sharing services to get around, chances are you’re probably sharing those rides with the coronavirus. The door handles, leather seats, seatbelts, steering wheels; controls are all places for the coronavirus to live. If possible you should crack or lower the window if your driver is coughing and sneezing. You should remember to wash and sanitize your hands after leaving. 

Gyms –  Use an antibacterial wipe on all equipment before and after each use, and wash or sanitize your hands when you leave. Avoid standing to close to others while working out. 

Airplanes/Trains/Subways – During a pandemic you should try to avoid such travel. Many of us will not be able to if we commute or travel for work. If it can’t be avoided, if you have an N-95 mask, wear it. If possible avoid sitting next to people or facing people. If possible disinfect your seat when you board and remember to wipe the armrests, tray, and window with alcohol-based antiseptic wipes. Use a hand sanitizer after visiting the lavatory, and if you need to change your baby’s diaper, disinfect the changing tray first (and afterward). You should avoid the lavatory on short flights and touching newspapers and magazines left behind by others.   

Doctor’s Office & Hospitals  – Well considering that this is where people with the coronavirus will come, you should probably look to reschedule your annual checkup or visiting a friend or co-worker if in the hospital during a pandemic. If you can’t avoid it you should know that waiting room chairs, elevator buttons, handrails, doorknobs, registration pens are all contaminated and you should wash or sanitize your hands often.

Another thing that you could do to reduce your chances of catching the coronavirus is to boost your immune system by staying hydrated, eating more leafy foods, lower alcohol intake, taking probiotic supplements and exercising more by increasing good blood circulation.

Be Safe My Friends

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