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Coronavirus tips: 14 ways to help keep yourself safe when you leave the house – CNET

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Social distancing is important in the grocery store, but so is how you shop.


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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Leaving the house to run errands and get fresh air are essential tasks that help keep you healthy and sane, but it also sets you on a collision course with other people outside your household — and a gathering of germs. You’re all practicing social distancing and thoroughly washing your hands, and many of you are wearing homemade face masks, but there are more precautions to take, too, as the US surpasses 400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Remember, the highly contagious new strain of coronavirus can be passed along on by those who appear asymptomatic.

Here are smart, sound tips to follow when you do need to leave the house to run essential errands. And here’s the current understanding of coronavirus when it comes to food delivery and mail, such as Amazon packages.

Read more: Wine, beer, alcohol delivery: How to get alcoholic beverages delivered to your door

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It’s important to reduce your risk of exposure when you shop.


Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

What’s this about wearing face masks in public?

Last Friday, the CDC reversed its position on who should and shouldn’t wear face masks in public. Prior to this latest announcement, the CDC and other health experts maintained that there was no need for the general public to wear a face covering in public. 

However, the rapid spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has caused the US authority on infectious disease to change course. The institute now recommends that people who reside in areas with high transmission rates, and those who are going to places where they can’t maintain social distancing (that is, six feet of space between you another person who isn’t a household member) drape their nose and mouth with cloth or another type of breathable fabric, including face masks you make at home or buy

The CDC considers this a voluntary health measure, and a recommendation. While it isn’t law, there is a strong grassroots movement that has circulated homemade face mask patterns and tips for weeks, for personal use and for donation to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.


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Health experts see wearing a homemade face mask as a step to take to slow the spread of disease, alongside washing your hands and practicing social distancing, especially from high-risk groups like senior citizens and people with compromised immune systems. Just be aware that homemade face masks might be better at blocking large particles like sneezes and coughs compared to the small particles that N95 respirator masks (reserved for health care workers) can block. 

Moral of the story: If you feel well and don’t have symptoms, wearing a homemade face mask in crowded public settings is recommended by the CDC. Most importantly, keep your distance and wash your hands.

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SummerDance/iStock / Touchups by CNET


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Enough with the fingertips: Use your knees, feet, elbows and knuckles instead

If you’re still pressing buttons for walk signs with your fingertips, stop. Any time you have to open a door, push a button, pull a lever or digitally sign for something, use a different body part instead. You have plenty.

For example, I’ll often tap out a PIN code or make a selection on a digital screen with my knuckle instead of the pad of my finger. I’ll push open a door with my shoulder, hip or foot instead of my hands.

You can usually flip on a light switch or sink faucet with your elbow or wrist, and you can wrap the sleeve of your sweater or jacket around the handle of any doors you have to physically pull open. It’s easy enough to toss your clothing into the wash later rather than expose your skin now, especially if the chances you’ll use your hands to touch food items or your face is high.

Distance, distance, distance

Did we mention distance? Social distancing can mean anything from hunkering down at home and refraining from seeing outside friends and family in person to keeping a boundary between you and others when you do go out. 

The practice of keeping 6 feet away from those outside your home group extends to waiting in line at the grocery store, going on walks (you can momentarily walk in the bike lane if you’re careful about looking out for street traffic) and picking up food to go.

Some states are enforcing social distancing in grocery stores and some businesses are doing that themselves. But if you need to keep more distance between you and someone else while on a walk or when reaching for an item at the store, take a step back and wait or politely ask the person to give you more clearance (“Oh, I’m trying to keep my distance from everyone.”)

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Automated door openers like this can keep your hands from touching common surfaces.


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Look for the automatic option

If the doors to whichever building you’re entering aren’t already propped open or have automatic sensors, look around before you pull a handle. Most modern buildings have accessibility buttons to open doors for people with mobility concerns. You can easily touch this with your forearm, hip or foot (some are pretty low down) and wait the few seconds for the doors to open. 

Consider buying an automatic soap dispenser for home so you don’t have to worry about transferring germs to the pump.

Watch where you put your phone

While we’ve gotten the go ahead to use disinfecting wipes on phones, another smart idea is to avoid placing your device on iffy surfaces to begin with. Do you really need to put your phone down, or can you just stash it in a coat pocket or purse? The less you can expose your phone to shared surfaces, the less you need to worry about them in the first place.

If you do put your phone down on a shared surface, lay down a napkin and set your phone on that. It’ll save you having to disinfect your device quite so often.

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If microfiber cloth doesn’t put your mind at ease, you can use disinfecting wipes on iPhones now.


Derek Poore/CNET

Set aside your reusable tote bags

Increasingly, store policy excludes you from bringing outside tote bags and other bags into grocery stores — or at least, using them in the bagging area. If you want to lessen your environmental impact, find ways to reuse the store’s fresh bags at home.

The stores I shop at continue to make baskets and carts available, and only some offer sanitary wipes. Others have assigned gloved staff to wipe down carts and baskets for you with disinfectant, before you shop. 

Regardless, it’s a good idea to thoroughly wash your hands before you leave home to protect others, bring your own sanitary wipes if you have them and the store doesn’t offer that option and be sure to wash your hands when you get home. Really, we can’t stress that enough.


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Don’t sort through produce with your bare hands

At a time when face masks are increasingly common in stores and shoppers will give you the side eye for rummaging through lemons, here’s a little advice: Don’t poke the bear.

When sorting through food, use a glove or stick your hand inside a fresh, store-supplied bag and use the outside like a glove to pick up and inspect the garlic and bananas you want, so as not to touch every item with your bare hands. It’ll make others feel more comfortable, and is just as likely to inspire them to follow suit.

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Maybe don’t rummage through all the fruit and veggies without reinforcements.


Shara Tibken/CNET

Whatever you do, touching’s off limits

Look, if they don’t live in your household, don’t touch them. Most of us are observing this dictum by now, but on the off-chance you see a friend or family member, resist the urge to hug, tap elbows or get anywhere closer than 6 feet. Air hug if you have to. Blow a kiss (minus the actual exhalation). We have 13 clever and satisfying ways to safely greet someone that keeps you and loved ones safe.

For food and package delivery, embrace the awkward 

Keeping your distance means that you’ll need to get comfortable speaking through closed doors and hanging back rather than rushing forward to help the person delivering you packages, mail and food. For example, if you happen to be outside, it’s not rude to let the mail carrier walk all the way up to the front door and place the mail in the box rather than take it directly — it’s appropriately cautious for the times, and helps protect you and them by keeping your distance.

Equally, if a food delivery person or neighbor drops something off, give a warm thank you through the closed door and wait for them to recede six feet before opening to door to thank them again and wave. They’ll appreciate your consideration and seriousness.

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You don’t have to spray yourself down, just wash those hands thoroughly.


James Martin/CNET

Wash your hands every time you get ‘home’ — seriously

Along with social distancing, washing your hands thoroughly is one of your best defenses against acquiring coronavirus. Give your hands a thorough scrub each time you get back. 20 seconds is the going recommendation, which may seem like ages, but if you wash slowly, it’s easy to do. 

I count five long seconds (one-one-thousand) of soaping each hand, in between the fingers and up to the wrists, then count another five seconds for washing each hand thoroughly to get the soap (and any dead germs) off. I often wash the soap dispenser pump and faucet handles, too.

That helps me feel safe enough to adjust my contacts, blow my nose and pick that nagging something or other out of my teeth in the comfort of my own space.

Read more: The best thermometers for cold and flu  

Don’t neglect your car and home

After getting back from running errands, it doesn’t hurt to wipe down your car and surfaces in your home, especially if you share it with others. Person-to-person contact is the most common vector, but viruses and bacteria do spread through objects and other forms of indirect physical contact. Here’s our guide for sanitizing your home and car.

Carry extra napkins, disinfecting wipes and facial tissue

Packing extra tissues, disinfecting wipes, wet wipes and other paper products in my purse is already part of my habit, but now I pay extra attention to how much paper I have on hand. 

Normally, I might use a spare napkin to wipe my hands after an impromptu snack (also in my bag). Today, these products could come in handy to clear away germs, or act as a barrier between you (or your phone) and a surface. For example, opening a door handle if you just saw someone cough into their hands before turning a knob.


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Stop handling cash

While it’s believed that the highest risk of acquiring coronavirus comes from person-to-person transmission, we do know that shared surfaces can harbor the virus. Play it safe by setting the cash aside for now and relying more on contactless payments.

A large number of payment terminals accept Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and credit cards with the contactless logo on them. And remember, if a digital signature is required, you can use your knuckle instead of your index finger. For a physical signature, start packing your own pen.

Banish questionable items to a long time out

Coronavirus can cling to surfaces, such as your jacket or a tabletop, for up to nine days at room temperature, studies have found. However, the CDC found that the coronavirus RNA remained in cabins about the Diamond Princess Cruise ship up to 17 days after passengers departed.

We know that a thorough cleaning with good ol’ soap and water will kill the virus’ structure, but if you’re not sure how to disinfect an item, like a dry-clean-only jacket or pair of boots, setting it aside for three or four weeks is another option. 

Read on for global coronavirus updates, how to track the virus’ spread across the globe, and how to sanitize your house.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Ontario confirms 57 new COVID cases today, removes 24 old cases – OrilliaMatters

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Public Health Ontario reported 57 new COVID cases today, and has also removed 24 previously-reported cases from the cumulative case count.

According to a Tweet by Ontario’s health minister, Christine Elliott, a “routine data cleanup” revealed some cases had been double reported and that resulted in Toronto Public Health reporting a negative case report of -21 cases today. Three more health units reported -1 case. 

Although there were 57 more positive results reported by the province’s regional health units, the 24 cases removed brought the net case increase down to 33.

There were no new deaths reported today. 

Windsor-Essex County reported the highest case increase with 10 new cases included in today’s epidemiology summary. Peel and Ottawa both reported seven new cases and Southwestern (Oxford, Elgin, St. Thomas) reported eight new cases. 

Based on the information included in the provincial summary, there are 952 active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, including 60 individuals who are hospitalized with the coronavirus. There are 21 COVID patients in intensive care units and 12 patients on ventilators. 

To date, Public Health Ontario has reported 40,194 cases of COVID-19, with 36,456 of those cases (90.7 per cent) now listed as recovered, and 2,786 cases (6.9 per cent) ending in death.

Since yesterday’s report, the province reported 21,581 more COVID tests have been completed. 

As of yesterday, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has reported 667 cases of COVID-19 to date, with 636 of those cases located in Simcoe County. 

There are 618 cases now recovered and 37 people have died in the region. The health unit indicates there are 12 active cases in the region – all in Simcoe County. There is one person from New Tecumseth still in hospital recovering from COVID.

The 12 active cases include residents from Barrie (5), Bradford (1), New Tecumseth (3), Innisfil (1), Essa (1), and Ramara (1). 

In Simcoe-Muskoka, the incidence rate for the coronavirus is 112.2 cases per 100,000 people in the population. 

Case breakdown by municipality for Simcoe County as of Aug. 10

MunicipalityTotal casesRecoveriesDeathsIn HospitalLast case reportedIncidence rate*
Barrie20118214 Aug. 10134.6
Bradford W-G13412112 Aug. 4311.9
New Tecumseth848011Aug. 10202.7
Innisfil5352  July 23132.5
Orillia19172 July 3053.8
Collingwood1616  July 2066.7
Wasaga Beach15141 June 1965.2
Clearview981 July 2760.9
Springwater15141 July 2071.4
Midland1212  July 2466.9
Oro-Medonte972 Aug. 438.6
Adjala-Tosorontio99  June 1677.2
Essa18161 Aug. 675.3
Ramara1211  Aug. 5115.6
Tiny66  July 16not released
Tay99  July 23not released
Penetanguishene871 July 23not released
Severn77  July 27not released

*Incidence rate is number of cases per 100,000 people in the local population.

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Lineups begin early as Brandon residents wait for coronavirus tests – Global News

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The first person in line at the Brandon coronavirus test site was there at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

By 8 a.m., at least 40 cars had joined the line behind him, all in an effort to avoid the massive lineups seen the day before.

The site opened at 8:45 a.m.

People waiting in line Monday at the Brandon drive-thru community testing site at the Town Centre Parkade waited for hours.

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A cluster of cases in Brandon over the past several days has people scrambling to be tested in the Manitoba city.

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Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said Monday there were now more than 60 known cases in one cluster in Brandon, and there were 196 active cases in the province, which is a record high.

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Manitoba sees 16 new coronavirus cases Monday, province seeing indication of community transmission: Roussin

A second testing site in Brandon will open on Wednesday at the Keystone Centre grounds with hours of operation the same as the Town Centre location, said Prairie Mountain Health.

“Clients may choose the site they prefer to go to (Town Centre or Keystone Centre), however they may be re-directed to the other site in order to help balance lineups and shorten wait times,” PMH said in a statement.

“PMH asks individuals who are not symptomatic or who have not been directed by Public Health or

Occupational Health to be tested, to please refrain from coming to the Brandon test sites at this time.”

One woman in line Tuesday morning told Global News the increase of cases was bound to happen.

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“A lot of people did let their guard down, and that’s why we’ve got a few cases,” she said. “It’s nothing that we can’t control.”

— with files from Abigail Turner

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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More COVID cases among Manitoba meat plant staff, but no closure planned – Red Deer Advocate

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BRANDON, Man. — Manitoba’s top doctor says stricter regional restrictions are possible as a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the province’s second-largest city grew to 64, with more than a third them workers at a hog-processing plant.

Maple Leaf Foods said Monday that 23 of its employees in Brandon had tested positive for COVID-19, though neither the company nor public health officials believe the virus has been spreading within the workplace.

Manitoba reported 16 new cases on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 558. There are currently 196 active infections.

Chief Medical Officer Brent Roussin said there is some evidence of community transmission in Brandon, though most cases are linked to a known source.

“Our approach is to not have widespread restrictions, (but to) take a much more surgical approach,” Roussin said.

“So we haven’t been looking at anything specifically right now. That’s always obviously on the table.”

He said officials have been closely monitoring the Maple Leaf plant, though there’s nothing to suggest virus spread within the facility.

“The company is going beyond public health recommendations and is having a larger number of workers self-isolating than what was recommended by public health,” Roussin said.

“We’re in regular communication with the company, which has been quite co-operative and continues to share information with us.”

Maple Leaf vice-president Janet Riley said pandemic protocols include daily health and temperature screening, mandatory face coverings and social distancing.

“Public health officials support our view that our workplace remains safe and that there is no reason to suspend operations,” she said in an emailed statement.

“Simply put, based on all the evidence, COVID-19 is not being spread at our plant. It is important to note that 144 members of our Brandon plant team have tested negative for COVID-19.”

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, which represents 2,000 Maple Leaf employees, has been calling for a brief halt to operations until outstanding COVID-19 tests for known virus contacts come back.

Union president Jeff Traeger said some of the positive cases have been among people working the same shift in the same department at Maple Leaf.

“And so I think it’s either a very strong coincidence or maybe they haven’t gotten it right — I don’t know.”

Either way, he said the plant should take a pause given how many workers carpool and take public transit to and from work.

Traeger said aside from refusing a shutdown, Maple Leaf has done a good job acting on recommendations to make operations safer. He added the company, union and government are discussing setting up testing at the plant.

He said the union is trying to avoid the “worst-case scenario” seen at the Cargill cattle slaughterhouse south of Calgary this spring, where nearly half the workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Traeger said workers, many of whom came to Canada as temporary foreign workers, are “absolutely terrified.”

“A large, large percentage of them have contacted the union office looking for a way to not go to work, but of course they’ve all got bills to pay.”

Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest said the Maple Leaf plant is by far the single biggest private employer in the community, but he would support a temporary closure if public health officials deemed it necessary.

The same goes to any possible broader lockdowns for the region.

“Throughout this, we have deferred to public health experts to really provide the direction and we’ve carefully and deliberately followed their lead from the very beginning of the pandemic,” Chrest said in an interview.

“These people have the expertise and the skill and training and experience to be able to lead us on this.”

— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 10, 2020

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