Staying Virus Free

It’s a frightening time to be in our world, isn’t it? Many of us in developed countries have heard the word pandemic, but never really expected to be living smack dab in the middle of one. After all, we have great health care (not always affordable, but that’s an argument for another day), food, shelter, (most of us), and can do fun things like going to a library to read books by our favorite medical authors (it’s a great time to discover Carrie Rubin). Now, in what feels like the blink of an eye, we are overwhelmed by life as dictated by COVID19.

I’m lucky that in my day job I get information about COVID almost as fast as it changes, so I’ve pulled some of the most relevant things together here for everyone. I’m guessing by now most of this isn’t new, but even refreshers are good.  If you have a blog, please feel free to repost and share. If you have information that I didn’t include, let me know and I’ll update the post. Disclaimer: While I’ll share what I’ve learned and will include links to the CDC or WHO sites, please confirm all information for yourself. I am not taking responsibility if you don’t clean well enough or don’t fully educate yourself, nor am I a replacement for the CDC or your state’s Department of Health.

If you’re wondering why it’s called COVID19, that comes from COronaVIrus Disease 2019. Well, I suppose they had to abbreviate it somehow, and that’s probably as good as any. It’s primarily spread through droplets, meaning if I have it (regardless of whether or not I have symptoms) and I cough and send invisible droplets with the virus out into the air, if you inhale some, or land on surfaces you touch, and you then touch your mouth, nose, eyes etc, you can get it too. Symptoms of the virus can be found here at the CDC website and I’d rather you go there for specific and expert advice on that because they can vary.

Here’s a little info about COVID19, it’s what is called an envelope virus, meaning it has an outer covering that can be disrupted. If it is, it dies. Soap will disrupt it, as will alcohol and peroxide, and potentially heat and low humidity. So lathering up your hands, breaks up that envelope, and washes off the virus. The CDC recommends both cleaning AND disinfecting surfaces. You can use soap and water to clean, then something else to disinfect. And of course THAT’s where it can be difficult, because we all know that bleach and sanitizing wipes have been in very short supply. I’m starting to see them back in the supplies again but amounts you can purchase are limited. One thing to note: Pay attention with the wipes for how long they need to be in contact with a surface to be effective, as it varies. Some are 30 seconds, others are 4 minutes. How do you know? Keep reading.

There was an interesting article on CNN recently about the published list of acceptable disinfectants against COVID19. You can find that list here  by clicking on the link for “the tool” and to use it you will need to know something called an EPA Registration Number. What’s that, you ask? Well, on each container of wipes there is some information on it that you NEVER paid attention to before, which is the EPA Registration number, or EPA REG NO. On my Target Up and Up branded wipes, it was on the front lower left, and looks like this:8D79B400-B4EB-4B20-979C-27A4300F1A3B

Everything like this that’s made is supposed to have a number, and here is the interesting part; with something like Up and Up, they don’t make their own product, it’s made for them by someone else. If that item has the identical formula as another product, then they have to have the same EPA REG NO, even if the brand names are different. So you can cross check wipes, liquids, gels, sprays, whatever is on the list to see if the number on your product is on here. If it is, then it’s an acceptable disinfectant for COVID19 according to the CDC. Remember to bookmark the site and recheck it too, I had looked for these wipes about 10 days ago and they were not on the list, and today they are.

When you enter the number you’ll see something like this:Screen Shot 2020-12-08 at 6.28.50 AMThat shows that it works for COVID, and that it needs to stay on the surface for 4 minutes to work. So make sure your surface is wet enough that it will stay wet for 4 full minutes, otherwise you might as well have not bothered. I also tried to look up my generic bleach, and found that it did not have an EPA number, so I searched by ingredient instead. What I found was that there is a variety of contact times for sodium hypochlorite (bleach) depending on brand. Who knew?

I’ve also learned that the virus lives pretty well on plastic and steel but not as well on cardboard or copper. This graphic from the New England Journal of Medicine (sourced from Business Insider) has helpful info:

Screen Shot 2020-03-21 at 10.21.46 AM

It apparently can also live for a few days on fabric…so you might want to consider changing clothing when you get home if you’ve been out shopping and toss the others in the wash.

However here are some things I’ve learned about preventing the spread.

  • Wipe down groceries when you bring them in the house
  • Wash clothes in the hottest water you can, and with a bleach detergent if possible.
  • Dry several times on the hottest setting you can.
  • Wash. Your. Hands. Yes, really. Save the hand sanitizer folks, for when you go out. First of all, you can’t buy the damn stuff anyhow right now, why waste what you have. Second, the CDC has said that washing with soap and water for a good 20 seconds is MORE effective than sanitizer.

Amidst all this, don’t forget to be kind to each other, look out for each other, rest well, eat right and try to get outside and get exercise by walking or biking if you can. Remaining healthy both mentally and physically will help do a lot to keep your immune system functioning!

Oh yeah, and wear a damn mask. Just remember: DE2A4F83-BF81-4AF2-AFF5-1CC5B846B388


3 thoughts on “Staying Virus Free

  1. The first time I saw it, I about died laughing, but it’s so true! I think of it every time I see someone with a mask under their nose or mouth, and picture them looking like this.
    I hope you guys are all still doing well!


  2. Your cartoon made me laugh! It’s nice that the EPA provides the contact times for all its listed products. Health Canada has a list of approved products, but it doesn’t include the contact time. I’d always read the instructions anyway, but it’s still convenient to see it on the list.


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