Infectious disease specialist on best practices for essential workers

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Customers look at sanitizing wipes on the shelves of a pharmacy in New York on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. As coronavirus infections spread across the globe, everybody has to make a decision: How worried should I be about getting infected, and what should I do about it? (AP Photo/Marshall Ritzel)

With COVID-19’S spread, it’s natural and responsible to take extra precautions. But are measures like stripping off clothes after spending time outside effective?

“If you look at the Center for Disease Control or the County Public Health websites as to whether there are specific recommendations as to what you should do with your clothes, there are none…Whenever you normally would wash them or clean them, that’s what I would do,” said Dr. Emil Lesho, an infectious disease physician for Rochester Regional Health.

Recent reporting has highlighted the extensive routines doctors exposed to COVID-19 patients follow to protect themselves and their loved ones.

For many doctors working with COVID-19 patients, these routines are calculated. Doctors are careful to take off protective gear prior to entering their home, they use U.V. light to kill the virus on the surface of masks and other substances, and they wash their hospital clothing right away.

But according to Dr. Lesho, extensive routines like that are not necessary for the vast majority of essential workers who are still reporting to their jobs amid the statewide shut-down.

“Remember doctors are taking care of patients that have known COVID disease and they’re taking care of those patients in close quarters. So they’re at the bed side, they’re well closer than 6 feet away. So for that reason doctors are a little more careful,” said Lesho.

According to medical experts, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is practicing strict social distancing and good hand hygiene. This means washing your hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day, taking special care to wash your hands before you eat, and avoiding touching your face throughout the day.

Aside from hand hygiene, one of the best things essential workers can do following their work-day is using EPA approved products to wipe down items that come in contact with many surfaces: like phones, keys, work badges.

“It’s important to practice good hand hygiene before and after you touch your cellphone. Try to talk on your cellphones at designated times so that you are not touching your cellphone and your face, especially if you are touching money or materials like that,” added Lesho.

Doctor Lesho noted that COVID-19 is spread through liquid droplets from people who are sick. Touching items that a sick individual has also touched or getting to close to a COVID-19 positive individual who is sneezing or coughing will spread the virus. That’s why experts suggest 6 feet of social distancing. So, unless you are in close contact with symptomatic covid-19 patients, clothes are unlikely to carry the virus.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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