Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19/2019-nCoV): Risk Reduction

By Melanie McCulley, MS, BCC, HHP

Support Services Program Manager at To Life!

Considerable information is swirling around about Novel Coronavirus COVID-19/2019-nCoV and it can be disconcerting. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people who’ve become infected have experienced mild symptoms and recovered. The CDC warns against alarmism and panic, but does acknowledge that older individuals, and those with compromised immune systems, might be at increased risk for complications associated with COVID-19.

The best way to avoid getting any virus is not to be exposed, but that is not always possible. To date, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, strongly advocate for the following protocol to decrease one’s risk of getting, and spreading, all respiratory infections including COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and running water. If soap and water are not available, use an antiseptic hand sanitizer (alcohol-based      with at least 60% alcohol). This is especially important when your hands are visibly dirty and after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, shaking hands, handling animals or animal waste, using the toilet, caring for someone who is ill, and before and after food preparation, eating, etc..
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Use good respiratory hygiene. Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it in the trash immediately or cough or sneeze into your elbow (crook of your arm) if    no tissue is available.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces used frequently, including: keyboards, a computer mouse, phones, tablets, remote controls, door handles, etc.
  • Avoid crowded areas and people who are sick.
  • Maintain a social distance, of at least 3 feet in general, and 6 feet if anyone is sneezing or coughing, or if you become ill.
  • Stay home, and away from others, when you are sick.
  • Be aware of travel advisories related to COVID-19. More information about the virus and travel can be found at the CDC website link below.
  • Consider a greeting other than shaking hands. Fist and elbow bumping are becoming increasingly common during cold and flu season, for example.
  • Stay up-to-date on information and recommendations, regarding COVID-19, via reputable evidence-based public health authorities.
  • Speak to your healthcare provider if it’s likely you have been exposed to the virus or if you have questions regarding your particular risk level and reducing       exposure. This is especially important for anyone with pre-existing health issues, including cancer, and/or a compromised immune system.
  • If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing seek medical attention promptly.
  • At the time this blog is being written, the CDC is not recommending facemasks for members of the general public who are well, and cautions that not all           facemasks are effective against virus transmission. More information about facemasks can be found at the CDC website listed below.

In general, stay informed of current and accurate information, about Coronavirus COVID-19, from reputable sources, but consider maintaining a boundary around how much virus-related research, news and social media is healthy for you. Take recommended risk-reduction steps and maintain a normal routine as appropriate for your health and circumstances and public health advisories. Most importantly, take excellent care of your overall physical, mental, and emotional health and continue to enjoy your life.

Below are several information sources regarding Novel Coronavirus COVID-19: 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: 

National Institute of Health:

New York Department of Health:

World Health Organization:


Disclaimer: Information and recommendations may have changed since the writing of this blog. Please stay up-to-date on the most current information, from reputable sources, and make your own informed decisions.

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