Eat This, Not That!
You feel a tiny tickle in your throat. Your spouse lets out a small cough on the couch next to you. You get a little chill after a walk outside. Is it coronavirus? Life has changed with the spread of COVID-19, and it's easy to get paranoid about catching it, especially during this "surge upon a surge," as Dr. Anthony Fauci calls our current situation. "We're in a very precarious situation right now," he told the Today Show. "This certainly is light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine, but we're not there yet. So we really have to intensify our public health measures to try and blunt this trajectory, which is really significant." Following expert guidelines and healthy protocols can keep you safe throughout this scary situation. Read on for 15 ways you can avoid contracting coronavirus—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus. 1 Avoid Congregate Settings—Especially Indoors, Where, If You Find Yourself in One, Wear a Mask Don't spend time indoors with people you're not sheltering with. Period. "People spending more time indoors combination of the holiday season, people doing the normal, wonderful things of congregating together at meals with friends and family, you know, as innocent as those things seem—in fact, those are the things in many respects that continue to drive this" surge, says Fauci. Don't spend time in large crowds outdoors, either. As Dr. Leo Nissola says: Don't Share Your Air! 2 Wear Your Face Mask—and Let's All Do It Universally Face masks work, says Robert Redfield, director of the CDC; wear them when around others who may have been exposed to the virus. "Masks offer some protection to you and are also meant to protect those around you, in case you are unknowingly infected with the virus that causes COVID-19," says the CDC. "You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick. This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. The main function of wearing a mask is to protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms." 3 Do More Outdoors, as Opposed to Indoors COVID-19 is an airborne disease. You can catch it in the air. Therefore, if you are in an indoor, poorly-ventilated space—where the virus is trapped with you—you increase your risk. Outdoors, the wind helps it dissipate. Bonus: If you're alone, you can take your mask off. "Outdoor is always better than indoor if you want to do any kind of a function," Dr. Fauci says. 4 Wash Your Hands Frequently As soon as the COVID-19 outbreak began, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended frequent hand washing to prevent contracting the virus. Coronavirus is spread through droplets from the sneezes or coughs of infected people. It can get on your hands when you touch items with these droplets. If you put your hands in your mouth or around your face, you can then become infected.Keeping your hands clean is crucial to avoiding the infection. To properly wash your hands, use running water, soap, and a dry towel. Wet your hands, lather them with soap for at least 20 seconds (covering your nails, fingertips, and palms), then thoroughly rinse the soap off. Dry them with a clean towel. The CDC recommends washing your hands after you've been in public, before and after eating, and after using the bathroom. 5 Don't Visit Your Friends If you're feeling fine and your friends seem healthy, you may think you're safe going to their house for a quick chat, dinner, or a drink. But stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders prohibit you from leaving your home for non-essential trips, which includes visiting your friends.Even if your friends feel well, they may be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, which is more common than originally believed. A recent study published in Eurosurveillance analyzed cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship; researchers found that, "Of the 634 confirmed cases, a total of 306 and 328 were reported to be symptomatic and asymptomatic, respectively." To prevent coronavirus infection, it's best to skip that visit to your friend's place for now. 6 Don't Touch Your Face Another one of the CDC's original rules for preventing COVID-19 infection is to keep your hands away from your face. Because the virus is transmitted through droplets that may be on items you touch, your fingertips may be contaminated. If you rub your nose or wipe your eyes, you're putting these tiny contaminated droplets even closer to your mucous membranes. Once they come into contact, you're likely to get infected. It's a tough habit to break. If you feel yourself wanting to touch your face, only do it when you're safely at home and after you've thoroughly washed your hands.RELATED: COVID Symptoms Usually Appear in This Order, Study Finds 7 Stay Away From Public Transportation We all need to perform essential errands, such as grocery shopping or stopping by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. If you can complete these errands without using public transportation, you're in better shape. The virus is spread through droplets released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or laughs. You're more likely to be exposed to these droplets when you're in close proximity to a crowd, like on a subway platform, in a train car, or on a bus. Try walking, riding your bike, or driving your own car to run errands. If that's not possible, consider having groceries delivered or prescriptions shipped. 8 Obey the Taped Lines on Supermarket Floors The CDC is asking the general public to abide by social distancing guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19. That means you should stay at least six feet away from other people. Grocery stores and other essential businesses make it easy for you to determine if you're far enough away from other customers with taped lines or other markings on their floors. Pay attention to the lines and only move forward when the next one is available. This ensures you're following the social distancing rule. 9 Quit Biting Your Nails It's a stressful time, and subconscious habits like biting your nails are hard to break right now. But biting your nails is actually a dangerous habit, as it can cause you to become infected with the virus. If you've touched surfaces that had infected droplets, or you got droplets on your fingers from an infected person you passed by, biting your nails spreads these droplets to your mouth and face. If you really can't kick the habit, make sure your fingers only go to your mouth after you've thoroughly washed your hands. 10 Clean and Disinfect Your House If you have a lot more free time now that you're stuck at home, you probably feel like your house is cleaner than it's ever been. But it's important to not mistake cleanliness for sanitization. Your house being free of clutter and dust is one thing. But surfaces that are frequently touched should be disinfected, such as toilet and faucet handles, kitchen counters, doorknobs, light switches, and desks. To thoroughly disinfect and sanitize surfaces, the CDC recommends using a household disinfectant or diluted bleach. 11 Keep Yourself Busy Being stuck at home on a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order can get boring fast. If you've already watched all the shows on Netflix and reorganized your Tupperware, it's time to take up a new hobby and keep yourself occupied. Coronavirus is transmitted by human contact, which is the reason behind all these regulations to stay home. Keeping yourself busy means you're more likely to stay put, avoiding people who are potentially infected. Try putting together puzzles, playing board games with your family, playing an instrument, learning a new language, or reading a book. 12 Don't Book Your Vacation If you're trying not to get infected with coronavirus, it's not the best time to reserve that trip to the Bahamas or finally go explore Barcelona. The CDC has labeled every country as having "widespread ongoing transmission." If you book a vacation, you'll expose yourself to crowds in the airport, come in close contact with other people in the airplane, and be forced to use public transportation at your destination. You'll also need to stay in a hotel and shop for provisions, exposing yourself further to other people who are potentially infected. It's best to hold off on booking that vacation until the virus stops spreading so quickly and aggressively. 13 Don't Touch Things in Public It may feel strange, but one of the best ways to prevent coronavirus is not to touch items when you're in public. If you're walking through a park, refrain from sitting on the park bench and touching the armrests. Only touch products in the grocery store if it's necessary. If you're out and about, wait to use the bathroom until you get home if possible. The fewer things you touch in public, the less likely your fingertips will brush a surface with germs.RELATED: Simple Ways to Avoid a Heart Attack, According to Doctors 14 Avoid Group Activities By now, you probably miss your volleyball league or you're fiending to have a beer with your co-ed softball team. As much as you'd love to meet your teammates for a quick pick-up game at the park, it's best to refrain if you want to avoid infection. Gathering with a group of people in close proximity increases your chances of contracting the virus. According to the CDC, "Based on what is currently known about the virus, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within 6 feet)." A game of volleyball or softball puts you in close contact with people and goes against social distancing regulations, putting you and your teammates at risk. 15 Limit Your Errands The more time you spend in public, the more you're increasing your chances for encountering a person with COVID-19, potentially leading to your own exposure to the virus. While it probably feels great to be out of the house, try to limit your errand running. Stock up on supplies in one trip to one store as best you can. If you only need a few items, consider having them delivered so you don't risk exposing yourself to other people. 16 Change Your Jogging or Biking Route Outdoor recreation is one of the only activities that isn't prohibited right now. Although it's allowed, it's still important to follow social distancing guidelines to prevent contracting COVID-19. You may notice your local bike path or jogging trail is now crowded with people, making it hard to maintain the six-feet-away regulations. If your path is crowded, you may need to switch up your route and bike or run through your neighborhood streets, where it's easier to stay away from others. Changing your route and keeping your outdoor recreation more isolated will keep you safer.RELATED: The Unhealthiest Supplements You Shouldn't Take 17 Stay on Guard in Public When you get to the grocery store to do your essential shopping, it's easy to fall into old habits. You browse the ingredients on a can of spaghetti sauce, move another shopper's cart out of the way, or strike up a conversation with the deli assistant. But these actions can make your shopping trip dangerous. Stay on guard any time you're in public and observe social distancing rules. Try not to touch items needlessly and always keep your hands away from your face. By keeping your guard up and staying aware of your surroundings, you can keep yourself away from people and reduce your risk of coronavirus infection. 18 Stay Well-Informed Obsessing over the latest coronavirus statistics isn't good for your mental health. However, the situation with COVID-19 is fluid, so it's important to stay well-informed on the latest CDC guidelines. Get your news from a trustworthy and reliable source so you can learn about the latest recommendations. Stay abreast on local guidelines, such as stay-at-home orders or the closing of non-essential businesses. If you're well-informed, you'll do your part to remain healthy and stop the spread of the virus. 19 Don't Give Up! "If you want to call it 'word of wisdom,' it's more 'word of encouragement:' this will end," says Dr. Fauci. "We've got to hang in there together, and take care of each other — it will end. The vaccines are on the immediate horizon to be started to be distributed in the month of December — tomorrow's December first — as we get to the middle and end of December, we're gonna start getting vaccines distributed. All through January, February, March, April." Until then, follow these fundamentals, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.