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You have almost certainly heard about the newest version of the coronavirus (coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19) and all of the problems being created and expected to be created as it spreads around the world. While panic is never a good reaction to this or other dangerous situations, knowledge about health and safety recommendations can put people in control of their own lives and personal health. COVID-19 is spreading quickly, and has been declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization, so it definitely deserves our attention and every effort necessary to slow and stop its spread.
Coronavirus disease 2019 is a new version of coronavirus discovered, with the first reported case in China in December 2019. Coronaviruses have been around for decades, some of which have proven more dangerous than others. Most people will contract at least one coronavirus during their lifetime. Most coronaviruses cause simple cold-like respiratory symptoms and are easily resisted by a healthy immune system; in fact, even COVID-19 only causes mild symptoms when contracted by someone who has a strong immune response. People with pre-existing unrelated medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and asthma and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of severe symptoms from coronaviruses, including the newest strain. The elderly are at special risk from COVID-19, which appears to affect them more severely than younger adults or even young children.
As with many illnesses, the coronavirus is spread through physical contact. If the virus is alive on a surface, it will move to anyone who comes into contact with that surface. While conditions will impact how long the virus will survive on a surface, it can last from a few hours to a few days. COVID-19 is airborne, meaning it can be spread through coughing, sneezing, or talking as bodily fluids (saliva, mucous, etc.) containing the virus land on people and exposed surfaces as well as virus particles that remain suspended in the air for minutes or even hours, particularly indoors where ventilation is not sufficient to remove or displace stagnant air. Hands or other body parts with the virus on them can leave the virus on other surfaces, as well, such as doorknobs, handles, counters, and other commonly touched items. This is why cleaning surfaces with soap and water, then disinfecting those surfaces as a separate second step is highly recommended. This is always good hygienic practice, but with the 2019 coronavirus in an active stage, it becomes more important to keep up with cleaning surfaces that are potentially exposed to people who might be infected. If it is known that an infected person has touched or been around an area, cleaning should be done thoroughly, though allowing up to 24 hours to pass (as long as the affected area is not in continued use) may reduce the likelihood of the person who is cleaning the space being exposed to the live virus. It is now known that people can be infected with COVID-19 and show no symptoms, either because the disease has not reached its full strength yet or because the person's immune response is keeping the disease in check, but the disease can still be spread during this time. That makes it critical that protective measures are put in place at all times, even when you are not sure if you or anyone else around you has the disease.
Good personal hygiene is always recommended. Cover your face when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, especially after sneezing, coughing, or coming into contact with areas where the coronavirus may exist. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before you eat and after using the restroom. Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) as much as possible. If someone is feeling ill, they should stay at home and away from other people, preferably in one room with the door closed. Ideally, a sick person should have only one other person taking care of them to minimize the number of people who could contract the illness from them. If you are especially susceptible to illness, stay away from public areas and large groups of people. Social distancing, or staying 6 feet away from other people, is another good tool for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses. Replacing a handshake with a wave, bow, or other non-contact gesture will help to keep germs from passing person-to-person.
As with other airborne infections, spending time in enclosed indoor spaces with others poses a higher risk of spreading the disease than being outdoors or limiting the time you are in contact with others, regardless of the distance between you. There are air filtration systems that should be able to safely remove and clean COVID-19 from air inside a building, but unless you know that a particular location has such a system in place, it is best to assume that indoor air could carry lingering traces from anyone who has been in that space recently. Wearing a face mask over your nose and mouth, especially when indoors with others, can help to protect you and anyone else you come into contact with in the event that you are carrying the virus unaware.
As is often the case, there are several myths making the rounds about how to kill, avoid, or get rid of the coronavirus that are simply not true.
Like many businesses today, BLUESPRING is concerned about what we can and should be doing to fight the spread of the coronavirus and maintain the health of our customers and our employees. Because of our business model, we don't have to worry about public stores or face-to-face contact with hundreds of people every day who may or may not be infected. However, we do take seriously the threats COVID-19 poses to mail order shipping and passing along germs from our distribution center staff. We are implementing heightened cleanliness standards, including washing hands periodically throughout the day and using hand sanitizer regularly between washings. We recommend that consumers wipe down surfaces as you receive shipments from us and other companies, including products once removed from packages. We have always had a policy for employees to stay home if they are sick, and we allow for paid time off to be used so that employees can maintain their paychecks even when they are ill and unable to work. Together, all of this should keep our employees free from contagious diseases like COVID-19, and prevent them from passing anything on to customers, as well.