Infectious disease experts say you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to protect against coronavirus or other bugs. These easy, doctor-recommended tweaks cut your risk by 64 percent!
Though we’ve been grappling with COVID-19 now for months, it’s still easy to find yourself considering expensive ways to stay protected from the dangerous novel coronavirus ($200 UV disinfectant device for your phone, anyone?). Indeed, sales of medical supplies like protective eye goggles, disposable medical masks and sanitizer gels have spiked by a whopping 261% since February, according to online marketplace OnBuy.com, and grocery stores are having a hard time keeping basics like zinc, disinfectant cleaners and hand soap on the shelves.
But there’s truly no need to stock up on pricey protective gear and supplements. “Working from home, avoiding public gatherings, social distancing, washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough work just as well,” asserts Igor Koralnik, M.D., chief of neuroinfectious diseases at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “And with some tweaks, you can make these methods even better.” Here are easy ways to pump up your routine to avoid catching (or spreading!) any virus.
Scrub like a doctor.
Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds is smart, but how
you wash is just as important, stresses Dr. Koralnik. The method he uses: Wet your hands. Add soap. Rub your palms together, then rub the back of each hand, interlocking your fingers. Rub each thumb, and rub your fingertips against your palms. “If you have a wedding ring, make sure you wash under it, as well,” Dr. Koralnik adds. Rinse and dry with a paper towel.
Dr. Oz demonstrated this same method on The Tonight Show and told viewers, “[This] halves the chance of you getting the coronavirus, we believe.”
Attend to your phone.
Your phone is likely one of the dirtiest things you own, according to microbiologists at the University of Arizona. But it can be tough to clean since manufacturers recommend against using disinfectants or diluted alcohol, which can strip the protective coatings on the display screen.
Dr. Koralnik’s recommendation: Get a screen protector (the kind you’d apply to ward off scratches and smudges) and wipe that with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes regularly. “I do this all the time,” he says. “The phone is the one piece of equipment that I use both in and out of the house.”
Up your vitamin D.
While you may see YouTube videos hawking mega-doses of vitamin C, “there’s absolutely no evidence that taking a vitamin C supplement, even at high doses, can protect against infection,” says Tod Cooperman, M.D., editor-inchief of onsumerLab.com, a leading independent evaluator of dietary supplements. Instead, he suggests getting 2,000 IU of vitamin D-3 daily. Boston University researchers found that taking D cuts the risk of catching respiratory bugs like novel coronavirus by as much as 64 percent. Note: Check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.