Is Hand Sanitizer as Effective as Soap and Water?

To prevent coronavirus, the best thing you can do is to wash with plain soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially necessary after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose.

If soap and water are not available, then the CDC recommends the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Note that alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. Soap and water is more versatile and effective. Soap is especially important when your hands are heavily soiled or greasy, or when you have come into contact with pesticides or heavy metals. (The use of antibacterial or antiseptic soaps is not helpful, since coronavirus is – you guessed it – a virus, not a bacteria.)

If your only choice is hand sanitizer, then you need to make sure to use the correct concentration with the proper technique. Any concentration less than 60% may be less effective on certain types of germs, and will only reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them.

When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount) and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry. The alcohol in hand sanitizer works best when you rub hand sanitizer all over your hands, making sure to get between your fingers and on the back of your hands. Do not wipe or rinse off the hand sanitizer before it is dry.

Due to coronavirus, we have had a shortage of hand sanitizer in some places. Many people have resorted to making their own, but this should really be a last resort, as the wrong mix can render the product insufficient to help and/or it can damage the skin. Luckily, to address shortages, the FDA has issued guidelines that allow companies to temporarily prepare certain alcohol-based hand sanitizer products. As a result, you should be able to find options in your local stores or online.

One final warning – it is very important not to use cleaners or disinfectants meant for surfaces on your skin. These products may cause irritation, and should not be used on humans or animals.

Remember, 20+ seconds of washing with regular soap and water is always your best option. But when that option is not available, hand sanitizer is a great backup.

For more information, check out the CDC fact sheet on hand sanitizers.

Should I wear a face mask when I go out in public?

In order to help protect yourself and others, the CDC recommends that you wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, like grocery stores and pharmacies. This is especially important in areas where there has been significant community-based transmission.

One of the big reasons for this is that the virus can be spread by people who do not know they are infected. Some people will never know (unless tested) as they can have the virus and be asymptomatic (never experiencing any symptoms). Others, who do get sick, could be transmitting the disease before they experience symptoms.

We know that when a person who has coronavirus comes in contact with someone who does not, they are least likely to transmit the disease if both people are wearing a face covering. We also know that some people are more susceptible to getting infected, and/or to becoming very sick due to the infection. Therefore, to help keep everyone safe (especially these most vulnerable members of our families and society) it is important for all of us to add this new accessory to our wardrobes.

What Kind of Face Covering is Best?

Due to shortages of surgical or N-95 respirators, it is critical that these medical supplies be used and distributed by medical providers or other first responders. Cloth coverings are the appropriate choice for everyday use.

While it is possible to buy both simple and fashionable coverings, you can easily make your own. Watch the U.S. Surgeon General demonstrate one option that just requires a bandana or similar piece of cloth.

Make sure that it fits comfortably, is secure, and uses multiple layers of fabric. You’ll also need to make sure you can breathe without restriction. It should be washed in a washing machine on a regular basis.

Check out the CDC’s page with more information on how to wear, wash, and make a face covering.

What treatments are available for COVID-19?

As of June 2020, there are no treatments and there is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19, although there are clinical trials under way. Since COVID-19 stems from a virus, antibiotics are not effective to combat it.

There are treatments for people who develop complications which lead to hospitalizations, or simply for those experiencing symptoms of the disease. For those with milder symptoms, your doctor will generally recommend that you stay at home, and use treatments such as the following:

  • Pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (note that despite some early reports, there is no evidence that ibuprofen will worsen COVID-19)
  • Cough syrup
  • Rest
  • Fluids

Patients with more severe symptoms may need to be hospitalized. In these cases, the use of respirators or other life-saving treatments may be used.

Due to the lack of effective treatments or a cure, the best thing you can do is to avoid contracting COVID-19 in the first place. The best ways to do this include:

  • Washing hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and eyes – if you have an itch or otherwise need to touch your face, make sure you only do so right after washing
  • Using a mask or other cloth face covering when out in public
  • Maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between you and others when out in public


Summer During The Pandemic: Q & A

While we hoped warmer weather would put an end to coronavirus concerns, the risk of respiratory disease continues into the summer season. Studies show that temperatures have very little impact on COVID-19 transmission. This means we all need to continue practicing prevention measures. What will this look like at the park, pool, beach, and beyond? Below, we answer some common questions regarding summer during the pandemic.

summer during the pandemic guidelines - yellow pool deck and water

Is it safe to swim during COVID?

According to experts at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 is spread through water. Chlorine and bromine–the disinfectants used to clean pools, hot tubs, spas, and water play areas– should successfully kill the virus.

The potential for COVID-19 to spread at pools, lakes and beaches is related to the crowds attracted to these places. Close contact with other people, whether on land or in water, is still of concern. If you and your family go for a swim, make sure to maintain social distancing and wear facial coverings when not in the water. And as always, follow the guidance of your local public health authorities and facilities.

Do I need to wear a mask while outdoors?

When assessing the need for a mask, you should always follow local rules and regulations, and also consider your proximity to others. Check ahead of time to see if your destination has rules around face coverings. In situations where keeping a 6 foot distance may not be possible, wearing your mask adds a layer of protection. In addition, try to go at off-peak times to reduce your exposure to others.

Do I need to wear a face covering when I’m riding a bike?

If you’re biking on a less populated path or trail, a face covering likely isn’t necessary. But if you’re in a city where there are lots of people using the same bike lanes, wearing a mask helps keep your fellow cyclists safe. Always maintain a safe distance from others and don’t follow behind other riders too closely. If you plan on going into a store or spending time with others during or after the ride, you’ll need a mask for those times as well.

Can I take my child to the playground?

Current CDC guidelines recommend against the use of playgrounds. It’s hard for children to maintain physical distance while on the jungle gym, and the equipment itself could be infected. If children or adults touch those surfaces and then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes, they can be exposed to COVID-19.

Are backyard barbecues OK?

Small outdoor gatherings are a great way to stay social this summer. Still maintain physical distance and try to keep numbers down (think less than 10 people). You can further reduce the risk of transmission by having everyone bring their own food, plates, and utensils.

We hope this Q & A serves as a helpful guide for a healthy and safe summer during the pandemic!

Our medical team is here to care for you through COVID-19. Get expert treatment and advice at our local clinic today.

Stay Safe Outdoors During COVID-19

picnic blanket - stay safe outdoors during covid-19As we head into summer, still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear that this season will be without its typical concerts, movies, sporting events, and vacations. But all is not lost. We can still enjoy the simple pleasure of heading outside for some sunshine.

Spending time outdoors provides a myriad of benefits, including sun exposure for Vitamin D production, mindfulness and a connection to nature, and a great opportunity for exercise.

Fortunately, the weather is warming up and it’s easy to get outside right now. However, with ongoing coronavirus concerns, and seasonal allergies in full effect, it’s important to take some precautions when doing so.

How to Limit Germs and Allergens Outdoors

  1. Choose a safe outdoor environment. To help limit coronavirus transmission, carefully consider your outdoor setting. You’ll want to choose an open air space close to home. Think parks, trails, recreation areas, or your own backyard. The key is to avoid crowds and to stay at least six feet from others at all times.
  2. Be smart about activities. For the time being, it’s best to avoid “high-touch surfaces”, such as playgrounds and sports equipment. These surfaces are difficult to clean and disinfect, and may be contaminated. Organized sports are also currently off-limits, since we should not be gathering with others from outside the home. Instead, choose nature walks, hikes, runs, or bike rides through the neighborhood.
  3. Practice good hygiene. Be sure that the whole family washes their hands immediately after coming inside from playing outdoors. Use soap and warm water, and wash for at least 20 seconds. If you have children, try singing the ABCs during hand washing and compliment them for doing a really good job. Hand washing is essential in the fight against coronavirus. To limit seasonal allergy symptoms, shower or bathe before heading to bed. This can help wash away any residual pollen or mold from outside. You can also prevent tracking allergens into the home by taking shoes off upon entering. The goal is to limit exposure to allergens as much as possible.

We understand that it can be a challenging time. We hope these tips help you feel more comfortable heading outside for some much needed stress relief. And if you or a loved one is suffering from seasonal allergies, know that we are here for you. Our friendly providers are available 7 days a week. We can evaluate your symptoms and provide expert treatment and advice.

Stay safe outdoors during the pandemic. We’re here when you need care.