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Tips for staying safe as stores reopen

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As the facts and situation around COVID-19 (commonly known as novel coronavirus) continue to evolve, Meredith Burt, RN, infection preventionist at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, will provide answers to commonly-asked questions.

Which body fluids can spread this coronavirus?

- Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) RNA has been detected in upper and lower respiratory tract specimens, and the actual virus itself has been isolated from upper respiratory tract specimens and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. SARS-CoV-2 RNA has been detected in blood and stool specimens, and SARS-CoV-2 virus has been isolated in cell culture from the stool of some patients.

- While infectious SARS-CoV-2 has been isolated from respiratory, blood, urine, and stool specimens, viable, it is not known whether other non-respiratory body fluids from an infected person including vomit, urine, breast milk, or semen can contain viable, infectious SARS-CoV-2.

As stores start to reopen, how can I protect myself while shopping?

- Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines.

- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you have to go out in public.

- Go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night).

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- If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.

- Disinfect the shopping cart with disinfecting wipes, if available.

- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.

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- If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.

- After leaving the store, use hand sanitizer.

How long do I have to quarantine due to recent travel or exposure to someone with COVID-19?

- According to the Vermont Department of Health's update on May 8, individuals must quarantine for 12 days. However, individuals who are in quarantine can be tested on or after day 7; if the results are negative and they are asymptomatic, they can end quarantine at that time (they should remain in quarantine while awaiting test results).

Terminology

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Immunocompromised — People with a weakened immune system are sometimes described as being immunocompromised. Cancer patients in active treatment, people being treated for autoimmune conditions like lupus, pregnant women and others may have weaker immune systems, which may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 transmission or symptom severity.

Daily Reminders

- Wash your hands often and for 20 seconds duration.

- Wipe down and disinfect often-used surfaces.

- Cough into your elbow and cover your mouth.

- Don't touch your face, including eyes, nose and mouth.

- Maintain a distance of at least 6' from another person.


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