This is Part 2 in my series with Dr. Phil Pearson on COVID-19. Dr. Pearson has practiced medicine for 39 years. He is an elder at Broadmoor Baptist, and he and his wife are well-respected members of our local community. For many years, Dr. Pearson also taught conceal-carry classes in our area.
As COVID-19 spreads across Mississippi, citizens can do their part to help those on the frontlines. When we take proper precautions, we help reduce the patient load for doctors and nurses.
Dr. Phil Pearson emphasizes what most of us have heard: “Stay at home as much as possible. When you must go to a public place, wear a mask. Clean your hands often. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, mouth.”
Let’s break that down.
Yes, wear a mask in public places
The CDC is now encouraging Americans to wear face coverings when they are in public.
Dr. Pearson explains, “New studies are showing that the coronavirus contagion can travel through the air during normal breathing at greater distances than previously thought. That means you could move into a space in a check-out line at a store and breathe in the virus if a person ahead of you was carrying the coronavirus.”
Wearing a mask also helps prevent asymptomatic people from spreading the virus.
However, young children shouldn’t wear a mask.
“Do not cover your baby’s or young children’s faces. They must be capable of removing the mask themselves to avoid asphyxiation,” Dr. Pearson said.
Dr. Pearson recommends this excellent Q&A from a doctor at the Mayo Clinic. He explains which fabrics are more effective and elaborates on why a face covering makes a difference, even when it’s not an N-95 mask.
Social distancing is probably more crucial than you realize
Since this virus is mainly spread by person-to-person contact and by respiratory droplets, keeping at least six feet away from people is paramount.
“Contact within six feet of another person is most dangerous, but droplets can travel through the air up to four times or more that distance,” Dr. Pearson said.
Think about that. That means droplets can spread 24 feet away or more from a person when they cough or sneeze. That’s about half the length of a grocery aisle at my local store.
Allergies and colds can become accomplices in the spread of COVID-19. An infected person, even if they aren’t showing symptoms of the coronavirus, can spread the virus when they cough or sneeze.
Dr. Pearson agreed that it’s wise to take precautions as if you—and each person you come in contact with—has the virus.
“You do not know if a person is infected. They could appear completely healthy when in reality they are asymptomatic carriers or they might be in the phase of the disease where they are not yet exhibiting symptoms,” Dr. Pearson said.
Infected persons can be contagious up to two weeks before they have symptoms.
Wash, wash, wash your hands. Wash them all day long.
I asked Dr. Pearson just how often is “often” when it comes to washing your hands.
“Hand washing should be done every 20 minutes,” Dr. Pearson wrote. (No, that’s not a typo. I checked.) “This is my self-imposed rule due to how the coronavirus stays viable on a variety of surfaces and how easily it infects people.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC is advising Americans to wash their hands after touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people.
Dr. Pearson encourages people to think about the various surfaces they touch each day that are also touched by others in their homes or essential jobs. Here’s a start: door handles, doorways, countertops, drawers, dressers, tables, cash, coins, phones, remotes, tablets, keyboards, tables, bathroom faucets and handles, toilet handles, knobs on appliances such as the oven or fridge, handles on appliances such as dishwashers and microwaves, gas pumps, shopping carts, and electronic touchpads for payments.
Medical experts also encourage people to wash their hands before and after they eat or drink.
“How many times do you keep a water glass or bottle near you and gradually drink it over time? In that case you may need multiple hand washes,” Dr. Pearson pointed out.
Additionally, Dr. Pearson emphasizes that people should also wash their hands before touching their eyes, nose, or mouth, because that’s how germs enter our bodies.
“We unconsciously touch our faces often throughout the day. In light of this, I just made it my rule to wash every time I do those things, but also to wash every 20 minutes for the things I overlooked or do without thinking.
Soap is just as effective at removing germs as hand sanitizers or antimicrobials.
“To date, studies have shown that there is no added health benefit for consumers using soaps containing antibacterial ingredients compared with using plain soap,” the CDC website explains. “Using soap to wash hands is more effective than using water alone because the surfactants in soap lift soil and microbes from skin, and people tend to scrub hands more thoroughly when using soap, which further removes germs.”
Studies also show that water temperature doesn’t change the effectiveness of a good 20-second lather and scrub. To keep your hands from becoming irritated, cold water is sufficient.
“Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in particularly high concentration under the nails, so the entire hand should be scrubbed,” according to the CDC.
Finding liquid soap can prove difficult, if not impossible. Dr. Pearson says bar soap is just as effective as liquid soap.
I recently started using this soap we had on hand and was surprised at how much quicker it lathered than the liquid soap we’ve been using.
Dry your hands completely
Cleaning your hands isn’t complete until your hands are dry, according to a study done by the Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
“When samples of skin, food and utilities were touched with wet, undried hands, microbial numbers in the order of 68000, 31000 and 1900 respectively translocated to these representative surfaces,” write the study’s researchers, Patrick, Findon, and Miller. “Bacterial numbers translocating on touch contact decreased progressively as drying with an air or cloth towel system removed residual moisture from the hands.”
Take care when you cough and sneeze
“Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, even if you are alone,” Dr. Pearson warns.
Let that sink in. Even if you are alone.
“The droplets may remain in the air or settle on surfaces,” he emphasized. “Throw tissue away and wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.”
One way you can find out if you are being careful enough
A bottle of glo germ and a black light could help you and your loved ones see if your daily routine is comprehensive enough. I suggest letting one family member secretly apply the glo germ to a frequently used surface in the morning. Then use the black light in the evening to see how you did that day.
This might also be an interesting way to find out just how often you touch your face.Just remember to use a black light to look at your face before you wash it.
Using glo germ might also reveal surfaces that are not getting sufficiently cleaned throughout the day.
This video shows how a third-grade classroom found out how germs travel through contact and through touching the same surfaces by using a product like glo germ.
Is your eye twitching yet? I hope not! But if it is, this is one way I stop the anxious thoughts.
Also, feel free to put your unanswered questions in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to find an answer and check with Dr. Pearson for accuracy.
Disclaimer: This is not intended to be medical advice. Please follow the advice of a knowledgeable family doctor and guidance from the CDC.gov.
Also, my desire is to responsibly report about top concerns surrounding COVID-19 by interviewing a trusted source. For in-depth journalism from a Biblical perspective, I highly recommend World Magazine.
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What are your biggest questions about covid-19 right now? Please comment below.