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Six Things Employees Need to Know About the Coronavirus

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

by Al Lewis

Coronavirus is clearly a moving target. But there are six constants.

1. Wash your hands frequently and for 20 seconds at a time.

And, yes, with soap. The water doesn’t have to be hot, but shouldn’t be cold. Warm is fine. Hand-washing may or may not prevent you from getting the coronavirus, but it will certainty reduce your odds of catching a cold or the flu.

2. Unless you have just washed them, keep your hands away from your nose and mouth.

Once again, this is more of a cold/flu avoidance thing, though should be helpful in avoiding coronavirus. Another safety precaution: avoid grabbing hard surfaces, like doorknobs, and then touching your hands to your face. Use a hand sanitizer first. (Counterintuitively, viruses don’t live long on soft surfaces.) This is just a good idea in general. No clue how effective this strategy is against coronavirus. But your risk of the flu is much greater if you come into contact with hard surfaces in public.

3. If you aren’t traveling abroad to regions such as northern Italy or China, and we know for a fact you aren’t, your odds of getting the flu are at least a thousand times greater than getting coronavirus.

Those odds may change, and in any event the same precautions you would take to avoid flu exposure would apply. The difference is that coronavirus spreads far more easily. Specifically, it becomes contagious well before symptoms appear, and some people have the virus – and are contagious – but never show symptoms. (Both are true of the flu, but to a much, much lesser degree.)  This stealthiness creates a sense of panic that, for now at least, vastly exceeds the panic about seasonal flus.

You might ask: “Do those odds change if I got a flu vaccine?” Answer: your odds of getting the flu are still much greater both because your odds of getting coronavirus (for now) are so low and because this year’s flu vaccine was not very effective.

The death rate from coronavirus is likely much higher than the flu. But it is still low as compared to other causes of death.

4. Face masks are controversial at best.

One reason we’ve waited until now to post this is to get a straight story on face masks. These masks aren’t easy to find now, they aren’t particularly comfortable, and they aren’t exactly a fashion statement if you want to be swiped right. All that would be fine…if indeed they worked. But most of the reliable sources say they don’t. There could be a reduction in risk but it would be modest. They are not designed to filter out tiny viruses but rather larger particles. That’s why surgeons wear them.

And – maybe this is just us – but we’re not putting masks on our dogs just yet.

5. There is no potion to reduce your risk.

6. Go about your everyday lives

Most people have nothing to fear. For now, you would have to be either unbelievably unlucky or completely negligent, or both, in order to contract it. You can even order Chinese food. If you get coronavirus from it, we’ll pick up your tab.

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