How to safely re-enter you home after essential work or trips to stop spread of COVID-19

Ask the Expert

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – If you’ve been in public and have possibly been exposed to COVID-19, Bon Secours St. Francis Nurse Practitioner Brandi Giles recommends thoroughly cleaning yourself and your belongings to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

“We don’t have antibodies built, so… pretty much if you come in contact with it, there’s a high likelihood that you’re going to be infected and you’re going to have symptoms,” she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread person-to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

To be extra cautious, Giles recommends that people who are returning from essential visits to places such as the grocery store, and not just essential workers in the healthcare industry, should be vigilant about removing all germs from themselves and from their belongings before entering their homes.

“At this point, [we are] assuming everything we touch and every where we go is contaminated, until proven otherwise,” she said.

Giles says the first thing people should do, when returning from possible exposure to the virus, is to take off their shoes outside. She says to either clean them before taking them inside their homes, or keep them in buckets to keep any possible germs contained.

In fact, any item you plan on bringing inside should be cleaned immediately, Giles says, including cotton masks.

“Go ahead wash it, put it in the dryer and have it clean for the next day’s use,” she said.

As an essential employee with ongoing exposure to patients testing for COVID-19, she follows this strict cleaning routine. “I take my shoes off, spray them down with disinfectant, go straight to the laundry room [and] put all my clothes in the washer. I start the washer and from there, [go] to the shower, before I touch anybody or say hello to an anybody,” she said. “In the morning we load the washer with soap and open the washer door so all I have to do later is put my clothes in the washer and turn it on.”

She recommends washing hands with warm water for 20 seconds, in compliance with CDC guidelines, and taking a hot shower.

Keeping away from her dogs before completely sanitizing is her biggest challenge.

“Not because we think they could become infected, we’re not sure, there’s been conflicting information,” she said. “But [the concern is] that my germs could get on their paws and get tracked everywhere.”

Giles recommends sanitizing or washing your hands immediately before getting in your car following an essential work shift or trip, sanitizing frequently touched areas in your car often, and limiting the amount of items you are bringing in and out of your home.

“This particular virus, as far as we’ve we know right now, can live up to 5 days on hard non-porous surfaces. That’s a lot of the time not the case with cold and flu viruses,” she said.

To learn more about the coronavirus and how to protect yourself and others, click here.

To submit a health topic related to the coronavirus or any other health issue for our Ask the Expert series, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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