The COVID-19 pandemic requires that we remain vigilant in our everyday lives. We can each take some simple steps to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease and protect ourselves, our families and our communities.
The steps are:
- Wash your hands often with plain soap and water.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering or non-surgical mask when around others.
- Avoid crowds and practice social distancing (stay at least 6 feet apart from others).
Here are some ways you and your family can help slow the spread of coronavirus disease.
Wash Your Hands
Because COVID-19 has never been seen in humans before, there are currently no vaccines to prevent or drugs to treat COVID-19 approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed (or exposing others) to this virus.
First, practice simple hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds – especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Learn how to wash your hands to prevent the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses.
If soap and water are not available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that consumers use alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% percent ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol).
The FDA continues to warn consumers about hand sanitizers that contain methanol, also called wood alcohol. Methanol is very toxic and should never be used in hand sanitizer. If absorbed through the skin or swallowed, methanol can cause serious health problems, such as seizures and blindness, or even death.
Before you buy hand sanitizer or use some you already have at home, check this list to see if the hand sanitizer may possibly have methanol. Most hand sanitizers found to contain methanol do not list it as an ingredient on the label (since it is not an acceptable ingredient in the product), so it’s important to check the FDA’s list to see if the company or product is included. Continue checking this list often, as it is being updated daily.
The FDA has also expanded the list to include hand sanitizers that contain other contaminants and products that have less than the required amount of the active ingredient to be effective.
If you have a hand sanitizer on FDA’s list, stop using it immediately. Learn how to find your hand sanitizer on the do-not-use list and how to safely use hand sanitizer.
Wear a Mask and Avoid Crowds
Stay home as much as possible. Avoid close contact (at least 6 feet, or about two arms’ length) with people who are not from your household, even if they don’t appear sick, in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the coronavirus.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth masks or face coverings – not surgical masks or N95 respirators – in public, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (for example, at grocery stores and pharmacies).
Wearing cloth face coverings or non-surgical masks in public can help to slow the spread of the virus. They can help keep people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when you cough, sneeze or talk.
Learn how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus.
Save Personal Protective Equipment for Those on the Front Lines
Don’t buy or stock up on personal protective equipment such as surgical masks and N95 respirators. Surgical masks and N95s should be reserved for use by health care workers, first responders, and other frontline workers whose jobs put them at much greater risk of being infected with COVID-19.
Follow Food Safety Guidelines
The U.S. food supply is safe, both for people and for animals. There is no evidence the coronavirus is transmitted through food, food containers, or food packaging.
As always, it’s important to follow the four key steps of food safety: wash, separate, cook, and chill.
Another way to help is to donate blood if you are able. The U.S. blood supply is facing unprecedented challenges and shortages. Donor centers have experienced a dramatic reduction in donations because of social distancing and canceled blood drives.
Maintaining an adequate blood supply is vital to public health. Blood donors help patients of all ages and kinds – accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those battling cancer and other life-threatening conditions. The American Red Cross estimates that every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood.
If you are healthy and feel well, contact a local donation center to make an appointment. Donation centers are taking steps to make sure donation is safe.
If You Have Fully Recovered From COVID-19, Donate Plasma
People who have fully recovered from COVID-19 are encouraged to consider donating plasma, which could potentially help save the lives of other COVID-19 patients. COVID-19 patients develop antibodies (proteins that might help fight the infection) in their blood.
COVID-19 convalescent plasma must only be collected from recovered individuals if they are eligible to donate blood. COVID-19 convalescent plasma can be collected from individuals who have had a prior diagnosis of COVID-19, which is documented by a laboratory test, and who meet other qualifications. For example, they must have fully recovered from COVID-19, with complete resolution of symptoms for at least 14 days prior to donation. A negative lab test for active COVID-19 disease is not necessary to qualify for donation.
Further investigation is necessary to determine if convalescent plasma is safe and effective as a treatment for COVID-19, and whether it might reduce the frequency or duration of illness, or prevent death, associated with COVID-19.
Report Fraudulent Coronavirus Tests, Vaccines, and Treatments
Some people and companies are marketing products with fraudulent COVID-19 diagnostic, prevention, and treatment claims. Fraudulent COVID-19 products can come in many varieties, including dietary supplements and other foods, as well as products claiming to be tests, drugs, other medical devices, or vaccines. Remember, currently there are no vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat COVID-19 approved by the FDA.
The sale of fraudulent COVID-19 products is a threat to the public health. Consumers and health care professionals can help by reporting suspected fraud to the FDA’s Health Fraud Program or the Office of Criminal Investigations. You can also email FDA-COVID-19-Fraudulent-Products@fda.hhs.gov.
If you have a question about a treatment or test being sold online, talk to your health care provider or doctor first. If you have a question about a medication, call your pharmacist or the FDA. The FDA’s Division of Drug Information (DDI) will answer almost any drug question. DDI pharmacists are available by email, email@example.com, and by phone, 1-855-543-DRUG (3784) and 301-796-3400.
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