Updated on 04/15/2020, 2:40 PM EST

The coronavirus pandemic statistics in the United States are sobering:

  • More than 600,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • More than 26,000 deaths associated with the coronavirus
  • More than 9,000 health care workers have been infected with the coronavirus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the outbreak and provides the latest information on the nation’s response.

The coronavirus is a dangerous, highly infectious, respiratory disease. It’s even more threatening than the annual flu because many people can spread the virus before they know that they are sick. During that time, exposed individuals appear healthy while unknowingly passing on the infection to others.

Until the number of cases decrease dramatically and/or infectious disease experts develop a safe vaccine, we will be dealing with effects of the coronavirus. And that could be for many months to come.

DO YOUR PART
Whether you live in an area with a high concentration of cases or in an area with a low number of cases, everyone must do their part to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Health care experts recommend these five simple steps to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.

  1. Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands
    You cannot get the coronavirus through your skin. It needs a gateway to your respiratory system, and that path is through your nose, mouth or eyes.

The pathogens that cause coronavirus get into our bodies through the mucous membranes on our faces – our eyes, nose and mouth – which act as a conduit to our throats and lungs where the disease can progress.

  1. Practice good hand hygiene
    It can’t be repeated enough – washing your hands is an important step in preventing the coronavirus.

The CDC recommends washing your hands before, during and after preparing food; before eating; before and after caring for someone who is sick; after using the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; after touching an animal or animal waste; and after touching garbage.

The right way to wash your hands:

    • Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
    • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
    • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    • Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
    • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If soap and water are unavailable, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

How to use hand sanitizer:

    • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand.
    • Rub your hands together.
    • Rub the gel over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take about 20 seconds.

Click here for more details from the CDC on the importance of proper hand hygiene.

  1. Practice social distancing measures
    Social distancing, also called physical distancing, means keeping space between yourself and others.

The four main elements of social distancing are:

    • Staying at least six feet away from others
    • Not gathering in groups, including family events
    • Staying out of crowded places
    • Avoiding mass gatherings

How to practice social distancing:

    • Stay six feet away from others when shopping for food or medicine at grocery stores or pharmacies
    • Use mail-order options for medications, if possible
    • Use a grocery-delivery service, if possible
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a face covering when out in public
    • Avoid public transportation, ridesharing and taxis, if possible

Click here for more guidance from the CDC on social distancing.

  1. Obey stay-at-home orders
    Currently, 43 states representing 97% of the nation’s population are under stay-at-home orders to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

While states and municipalities might have restrictions specific to their locations, most stay-at-home orders require residents to remain at home and away from other people unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Under stay-at-home orders, people are to remain in their homes, with the exceptions for going out for medical care, food and essential work. (AmeriLife, as a part of the financial services industry, is considered an essential business and remains in operation.)

The purpose of stay-at-home orders is to limit the number of people exposed to the virus and not overwhelm local health care systems. When stay-at-home orders are obeyed, the number of coronavirus cases can be spread over a longer length of time, which gives health care professionals the time to manage staff and resources.

Unfortunately, stay-at-home orders means people will miss everyday events and important milestones, such as church services, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings and family gatherings. Staying at home now helps to ensure our family and friends remain healthy and will be able to celebrate with us in the future.

What are essential activities under a stay-at-home order?

    • Receiving medical care
    • Shopping for food, medicine and supplies
    • Getting take-out food
    • Conducting business at gas stations, auto mechanics, banks, post offices and shipping companies
    • Taking part in outdoor physical activity, such as a walk or run, while practicing social distancing

What are non-essential activities under a stay-at-home order?

    • Going to the gym or public pool
    • Dining out
    • Going to parties
    • Visiting entertainment venues

Click here for more information on obeying stay-at-home orders.

  1. Wear face coverings when going out for essential reasons
    Last week, the CDC recommended that people start wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. This is especially important in locations that have a high number of community-based infections.

The purpose of using a face covering is to prevent people who are unknowingly infected from passing on the coronavirus to others.

The CDC warns that cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which are being reserved for health care workers and other first responders who are at the forefront of battling the disease.

Cloth face coverings can be constructed from a banana and rubber bands, an old t-shirt or scrap material and elastic.

Click here for more information from the CDC on cloth face coverings and instructions for making a face covering.

By acting on these simple measures, we are doing our part to help keep our families and communities safe and prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

Click here for more information from the CDC on the coronavirus.

You can find the latest information on AmeriLife’s response to the coronavirus by going to https://amerilife.com/411.

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