The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus around the globe has left people with whiplash, as new information and recommendations for how to remain safe come out every day.
This virus doesn’t discriminate—actor Tom Hanks, British royal Prince Charles and U.S. Senator Rand Paul all have tested positive. On March 26, Eurodressage reported that Grand Prix dressage riders Fiona Bigwood and Riika Koljonen are also battling the coronavirus.
Are you stressing about what you can do to stay safe and prevent exposure to those around you? Here are some facts and information gathered from Johns Hopkins University (Maryland) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of March 26, there were 491,623 cases worldwide, with 81,782 confirmed in China, 74,386 in Italy and 69,210 in the United States. More than 22,100 people have died, and Italy is the country with the most deaths so far, at 7,503. The United States has now incurred more than 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths.
How does the coronavirus spread?
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is thought to spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes or by being in close contact with people who test positive. According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, SARS-CoV-2 can live in the air and on surfaces for several hours or even several days. The virus is viable for up to 72 hours on plastic, 48 hours on stainless steel and 24 hours on cardboard. It is also detectable in the air for three hours. But you are more likely to catch the infection if you’re near someone who is infected, rather than from a surface.
What are basic steps to take to protect yourself?
– Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you’ve been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
– Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if you can’t easily wash your hands with soap and water.
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
– Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, desks, phones, keyboards, faucets and sinks. Most common Environmental Protection Agency-registered household disinfectants will work. You can dilute household bleach by mixing 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water OR 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol also work, and other products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
What are other ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus?
Self-quarantine and social distancing. Self-quarantine means staying in place for 14 days because you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive. Social distancing means remaining at home as much as possible and limiting outside contact to only necessary interactions, such as grocery shopping.
How do I minimize risk while grocery shopping?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. While it’s possible that a person might get sick from touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, that’s not the main way the virus spreads. Thus, the imperative is to prevent person-to-person contact.
Wipe down grocery carts before and after use and wash your hands thoroughly before and after leaving the grocery store. Follow the four key steps of food safety with the products you purchase: clean, separate, cook and chill. Because COVID-19 can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours and up to 72 hours on plastic, wipe down products before bringing them into your home.
The New York Times has an excellent guide for how to reduce risk while grocery shopping.
How do I reduce the risk at the barn?
Disinfect commonly used surfaces such as water and feed buckets, crossties, lead ropes, halters, tack, grooming supplies, faucets, hoses, stall and barn door handles, wheelbarrows, shovels, brooms, pitchforks and frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches and countertops. There is no evidence at this point that indicates that horses can contract SARS-CoV-2 from people or spread it to them.
Limit the number of people at the barn so they can maintain 6 feet of distance between them. Create a schedule to reduce the number of people present in the barn or close the barn to everyone who isn’t required to care for the horses. Some states have mandated that non-essential businesses close and implemented shelter-in-place protocols, which means the only people allowed at barns are those caring for the horses.
What should I do if I think I have the coronavirus?
If you develop symptoms, which include fever, cough, shortness of breath, you should self-isolate at home. Contact your health care provider, but stay home and limit contact with everyone as long as your symptoms are manageable. Guidelines from the CDC recommend self-isolating until symptoms have completely resolved, it’s been at least seven days after symptoms first appeared, and ideally after you have tested negative in at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected 24 hours apart.