More Questions & Answers from “Be Well Virginia” Town Halls

As cases of COVID-19 are rising in parts of the United States, Northern Virginia Family Practice is here to answer your questions.  Sessions from our Town Hall Series Be Well Virginia are posted on our website.  I’ve included below a few of the valuable questions our amazing patients have sent in.

  1. Can you address the safety of restaurant food, groceries (going into store versus pick up/delivery)? What precautions do we really need to take?

The CDC recommends ordering food and other items online for home delivery or curbside pickup.  Limit trips in-person and only for essential items to reduce your exposure.  When going to a store, stay 6 feet away from others, wear a cloth face covering, visit during off peak hours or if you are at higher risk go during specific hours.  They recommend disinfecting the shopping cart if a wipe is available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth and use touchless payment.  If available, use hand sanitizer upon leaving the store and once you are home wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.  There is no evidence that food or food packaging can make you sick from COVID-19.

When having food or other items delivered limit your person to person contact.  Pay for your items online and again wash your hands after you receive your takeout food.

  1. Do we need to wear a mask when we are outside? Are homemade masks better/worse than surgical masks?  Do I need an N95 mask?

Face coverings should be worn whenever you are in a situation where you may be near other people.  The Centers for Disease Control recommends anyone over the age of 2 wear a mask in public and you should continue to practice social distancing.  They discourage use of surgical masks and N95 masks because they are in limited supply and need to be reserved for healthcare workers.

Below are instructions on how to properly put on your mask or face covering.

  • Before touching the mask, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water.
  • Do not use a mask that has previously been worn or is damaged.
  • Place the mask on your face covering your nose, mouth and chin, making sure that there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Pinch the metal strip so it molds to the shape of your nose.
  • Do not touch the front of the mask to avoid contamination; if you accidentally touch it, clean your hands.

How to take off a medical mask:

  • Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • Remove the straps from behind the head or ears, without touching the front of the mask.
  • Pull the mask away from your face.
  • Medical masks are for single use only.
  • Clean your hands after touching the mask.
  • Replace if it gets soiled or damp.

How to clean your cloth face covering:

 Washing machine

  • You can include your mask with your regular laundry.
  • Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the mask.

Washing by hand

  • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) household bleach per gallon of room temperature water or
    • 4 teaspoons household bleach per quart of room temperature water.
  • Soak the mask in the bleach solution for 5 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cool or room temperature water.

Make sure to completely dry mask after washing.

How to dry

Dryer

  • On high heat place the mask in the dryer until completely dry.

Air dry

  • Lay flat and allow to completely dry. Preferably, place the mask in direct sunlight.

A mask alone cannot protect you from the novel coronavirus. In addition to wearing a mask practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.

  1. What about gloves, do I need these too?

 There has not been a formal recommendation by the CDC for the general population to wear gloves.  If someone in your home has COVID-19 it would be a good idea to wear gloves when cleaning surfaces and doing soiled laundry.  Most important is good handwashing with water and soap for 20 seconds or alcohol sanitizer solution.

Stay safe and contact NVFP for an appointment if you develop any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.  We’ll continue to keep you informed with our virtual town hall sessions…please check the website for updates.

By  Jessica Ware, PA-C, concierge family medicine PA for 18 years focusing on high-quality personalized preventive care.