“Shake someone’s hand?  Wash your hands. Touch your face? Wash your hands. Touch your hair? Wash your hands. Touch your phone?  Oh, yes, definitely wash your hands. Touch anything that’s not food or a cooking utensil while you are here, in the kitchen, you’re going have to wash your hands immediately after.”

Those who have attended Michael’s cooking classes at Sur La Table in Santa Clara know exactly what a germaphobe he is.  And amid today’s concern of the new coronavirus, personal hygiene is more important than ever.  Wash your hands regularly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds.  Don’t forget to apply lotion afterwards to prevent cracked skin.  And above all, be aware of your actions and how they affect the transfer of germs.

Now, this article is not to extend the fear of COVID-19.  There is nothing more dangerous than mass hysteria and an overreaction to a scare that suddenly pops up.  This article only serves to help educate each of us in what we can do to help prevent the spread of diseases.  At this time, most people in the United States have little immediate risk of exposure.

The easiest thing to note is that COVID-19 and the common flu share many similarities.  They are both respiratory diseases, transferred via person-to-person contact usually through coughing, sneezing, or talking.  It is believed that both can be spread without symptoms for several days – which is why the 14-day quarantine was established in parts of the world.  Both have similar symptoms – fever, cough, body aches, fatigue, and on several occasions, vomiting and diarrhea.  They can both lead to pneumonia.

There are a few differences, however.  Namely, the common flu is caused by several different types and strains of influenza viruses; COVID-19 is caused by one.  There exists a vaccine to prevent some of the most dangerous types of the common flu or reduce the severity of the illness.  But there is no vaccine for the newly discovered coronavirus.  Antiviral medications exist that can address symptoms and shorten the duration of the common flu, but there are no proven medications to treat COVID-19.  However, even if infected with the common flu or COVID-19, many have little to no fatal risk, unless they already have a compromised immune system.

So, essentially, COVID-19 and the common flu are characteristically the same.  And to prevent the spread of such diseases, you should remain vigilant of your own personal hygiene.  The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of the disease, nothing out of the ordinary.

·        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.

·        And most importantly, wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds each time with warm water and soap – especially before eating and after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, going to the bathroom.

For the general public without respiratory illness, wearing lightweight disposable surgical masks is not recommended, contrary to popular belief. Because they don’t fit tightly, they may allow tiny infected droplets to get into the nose, mouth or eyes. Also, people with the virus on their hands who touch their face under a mask might become infected.  However, facemasks should be used by those who show symptoms to prevent the spread of the disease to others.  Professional facemasks are also vital for health workers taking care of patients.

Living Room Coffee Craft will also take measures to help prevent the transfer of such respiratory diseases.  We regularly sanitize our work surfaces, the café tables, and the bathrooms.  Lids will be placed on paper and plastic cups by baristas with clean hands.  Utensils and cup stoppers will be handed out only when asked for.  We kindly request that you, community, help our team to ensure and encourage a healthy environment where everyone can safely come and stay awhile.

For more information, please visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html