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When it comes to protecting yourself from the new coronavirus strain, here are 3 practical, no-fuss ways to protect yourself and those around you.

As concerns rise about the new strain of coronavirus (which causes the COVID-19 illness), it’s important to stay calm, seek information from reliable sources and continue to practice common illness prevention measures. 

While the global coronavirus outbreak is, understandably, cause for concern, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 still poses little risk to healthy individuals.

Coronaviruses are a large family of common viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from a common cold to a severe lower respiratory tract infection (like pneumonia). 

Since we know the new coronavirus strain spreads similarly to the flu, the best way to protect yourself is through tried and true prevention measures. Here are a few:

1. Wash your hands – frequently 

You’ve probably already heard about the importance of washing your hands, especially after coughing, sneezing or visiting public areas. But it can’t be emphasized enough. 

Scrubbing with soap and water for just 20 seconds (sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice) can go a long way in protecting yourself and others. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wipes can help, too, when you aren’t near a sink.

Other ways to protect yourself (and others) include:

  • Covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, or better yet, sneeze and cough into your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Limit physical contact with people (i.e. handshakes).
  • Cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects you touch regularly.
  • Get your flu shot, if you haven’t received it yet and if you already have a visit scheduled in one of our clinics.

2. Feeling under the weather? Stay home.

Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) include those similar to a cold or flu with fever, cough or shortness of breath, and can range from a mild cough to severe pneumonia. Symptoms can appear as early as two days and as late as 14 days after exposure.

If you’re feeling sick at all, remember to stay home to keep those around you from getting sick, too. If you feel you have symptoms related to COVID-19, the first step is to contact your primary care doctor or healthcare provider. They can recommend proper treatment and, if necessary, notify public officials. 

Are you a Geisinger patient? Find your primary care clinic’s phone number here or message your care team by signing in to the myGeisinger patient portal.

It’s also crucial to follow visitor restrictions at your local Geisinger hospital or clinic to help prevent the spread of any illness. See the latest hospital visitation policy.

3. Wear a homemade cloth or fabric mask whenever you leave your home.

You’ve probably seen it on the news or on social media – images of people using face masks to protect themselves. While the use of surgical masks and N-95 masks should only be reserved for healthcare professionals and first responders, masks can help prevent the spread of coronavirus by protecting others.

While there’s limited evidence that shows cloth or fabric masks may not protect the person wearing it from coronavirus, they offer others protection from you.

Remember this saying: “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”

A mask can prevent the person wearing it from spreading their own possibly contaminated droplets — which can spread when you breathe, talk, laugh, sigh, yawn, sneeze or cough in public. This means you’re less likely to get droplets on public surfaces like door handles, gas pumps, checkout screens, items at the grocery store or pharmacy, public transportation, office phones or anywhere else if you are wearing a mask.

This can help prevent people, even those who aren’t showing any symptoms but may have the virus, from spreading infection. 

Here are DIY instructions from the CDC on how to make and wear cloth face coverings.

We’re prepared

Here at Geisinger, our teams are continuing to monitor this situation and follow guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and CDC. 

We're prepared and trained to safely treat our communities in any public health concern, including COVID-19.

While COVID-19 is surely nothing to ignore, your best defense against it is to stay informed and follow the same preventive measures you’d take to ward off the flu, or another illness.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) websites.

Next steps:

Visit our coronavirus resource center
Read coronavirus FAQs
Want to message your care team? Sign in or create a myGeisinger account.

Happy woman with her young daughter, washing their hands to protect themselves from coronavirus and other illnesses.

Geisinger COVID-19 hotline

570-284-3657

Call our 24/7 hotline for answers about care recommendations and more.

Visit Geisinger’s Coronavirus Resource Center for the latest information and helpful resources.

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