Coronavirus: Keep Calm + Wash Your Hands


Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a hot topic of global news. You’ve likely heard something about the rapidly spreading virus that started in China, but what could it mean for us, for our families and the Flagstaff Community? I’ve researched the CDC website and distilled some of the main facts here as a resource. I am not a healthcare professional, but I am a mom and a Broadcast Journalist – so I love facts. Above all else, I love facts that provide clarity and dispute hysteria. 

If you only take one thing from this article, let it be this:

Keep calm, and wash your hands

Click to jump to a section:

How it spreads
What are the symptoms
COVID-19: Pregnancy, children and breastfeeding
How to protect yourself and your family
What to do if you get sick
What to do if a family member is infected
How am I preparing + products to stock

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The outbreak first started in Wuhan, China, but cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States.  (Source)

How it spreads

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.


What are the symptoms

For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

CDC believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. This is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses. (Source)

COVID-19: Pregnancy, children and breastfeeding

There is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. In fact, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported from China have occurred in adults. Infections in children have been reported, including in very young children.

Information about children and pregnant women and COVID-19 is available on this page

How to protect yourself and your family

While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, everyone can do their part to respond to this emerging public health threat. (Source)

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does NOT recommend that people who are well to wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website

For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.


What to do if you get sick

If you are sick with COVID-19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, follow the steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

Stay home except to get medical care

You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.

Animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. 

Call ahead before visiting your doctor

If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Wear a facemask

You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. 

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. 

Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces every day

Monitor your symptoms


What to do if a family member is infected

  1. Monitor the patient’s symptoms. 
  2. Household members should stay in another room or be separated from the patient as much as possible. Household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.
  3. Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.
  4. Household members should care for any pets in the home. Do not handle pets or other animals while sick.  
  5. Make sure that shared spaces in the home have good air flow, such as by an air conditioner or an opened window, weather permitting.
  6. Perform hand hygiene frequently. 
  7. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  8. You and the patient should wear a facemask if you are in the same room.
  9. Wear a disposable facemask and gloves when you touch or have contact with the patient’s blood, stool, or body fluids, such as saliva, sputum, nasal mucus, vomit, urine.
  10. Throw out disposable facemasks and gloves after using them. Do not reuse.
  11. When removing personal protective equipment, first remove and dispose of gloves. 
  12. Avoid sharing household items with the patient. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items. After the patient uses these items, you should wash them thoroughly 
  13. Clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables, every day. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
  14. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. 
  15. Wash laundry thoroughly.
  16. Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.
  17. Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items and keep soiled items away from your body. Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after removing your gloves.
  18. Read and follow directions on labels of laundry or clothing items and detergent. In general, using a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label.
  19. Place all used disposable gloves, facemasks, and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste. 
  20. Discuss any additional questions with your state or local health department or healthcare provider.

BioOne Flagstaff and Rebecca Wallace are an excellent resource. Contact her 24/7 should you or a family member become infected.

Phone: 928.863.8276       

Email: [email protected]

How am I preparing

  1. Reducing our risk of infection
  2. Being prepared should there be a peak infection period and we need to stay home

We’ll be stocking up on hand soap, cleaning products, and other disinfecting products. I created an Amazon list of some helpful items. The most exciting is the little hand washing timer for my boys, they use the same one at our Preschool. I’m also going to practice better handwashing hygiene and get back into the routine of nightly baths for my boys. 

I’m also going to make a big effort to not touch my face. I am a constant face toucher, ick. 

I’m thinking of stocking my house like I would before a snowstorm, except this could be a “storm” that goes on for a week or two. Stocking up on canned and frozen fruits, vegetables and dry goods. Making sure I keep a good supply of pet food and our prescriptions filled. 

Remember, keep calm, wash your hands and don’t touch your face. 

We’re going to be ok, but let’s also be prepared and informed. No need to panic, but please do think through what it might look like if our community is infected. I also realize that spending piles of money on wipes and bleach and canned good isn’t financially possible for everyone. Remember, hand washing is a major way to lower your risk of infection – if you can do nothing else, wash your hands and cover your cough. 

It’s also worth acknowledging that as a community of moms we will need to rely on each other should the virus arrive here. There will be sick kids, and work schedules and possible school closures – think of how that might look for your family and work on a plan of ‘just in case.’