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Social Distancing, Handwashing and Masks to Stop the Spread of COVID-19


Dr. Nathan Grunewald: For sure the most important thing and the thing most people remember early on into the pandemic was physical distancing; also known as social distancing. And it was really meant that a virus that is transmitted via a respiratory droplets. So these are when you're speaking maybe a little piece of spit comes out of your mouth and it lands on a surface or you wipe your nose or your mouth or someone standing close to you and breathes in the air that you just expired.

We know that by being further apart it's less likely that those droplets are going to get to the other person's face or allow them to breathe it in. And that's one of the ways that respiratory diseases gets transmitted. That's similar to how the flu is transmitted. The same way. It's virus particles that come out of our respiratory tract like our mouth and our nose when we sneeze. So physical distancing is super important to help prevent that spread.

The other thing to do is really hand washing. And the interesting thing about coronavirus is that it actually has this little fatty layer around it called the phospho-bilipid layer. And what that is that it's people kind of think about when they wash their greasy pans which is really just fat, you put soap in there to help break down the fat. Well, by washing your hands with soapy water, you break down the fatty layer so to speak around a virus particle and then there is a very specific way to wash your hands – a way that covers all the surfaces, gets them by your fingernails, gets in between your fingers – and we do that for 20 seconds and you really suds it up and help write down those virus particles and then you rinse it off with water. And so hand washing super important because we know that you touch your face you touch a variety of different things and that those virus particles could live for a short period of time on those surfaces.

The other thing that's super important that we may find is actually one of the most important things is actually masking. And so masking involves when you leave your car or when you leave your home and you go out into the public spaces, you want to do some things that actually help protect all of us. So wearing a cloth mask is really about protecting those people around you than it is protecting yourself. And that's because again those respiratory droplets coming out of your mouth when you talk, cough, they can kind of fly away from you. So when you put a mask on you want to cover your mouth and your nose.

I've got the ear loop mask version and there's some that are the tie version above there. And you really want to cover your nose and your mouth. All right. In an ideal world you won't touch your mask again. All right. And when you're talking you're actually having some respiratory droplets come out of your mouth that get into your mask and they stop there. They can't go further out because you've got a mask on. It's super helpful at preventing the spread on surfaces, on your hands.

Now you don't want to do this. Not really helpful. Still got your nose. All right. You don't want to constantly be fidgeting because you're now touching the mask that might have virus on it. When you're done, you take the straps off either from the ear loops or you untie it from above to take it down. Those things taken together have probably led to the majority of the reduction in the spread of the virus in this country.