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Deborah German, MD Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean, UCF College of Medicine

We’ve all spent weeks in isolation and now are in the process of returning to working back in the office. We’re balancing the need to get back to some kind of normal life, keep our economy healthy and creating safer environments for individuals.

But COVID-19 is still out there — it hasn’t gone away. So how do we balance this new normal? These four simple things are the key to keeping yourself, your colleagues and your family safe.

1. Masks. Everyone should wear a mask any time you leave your home. A mask is a barrier that keeps all of us from breathing each other’s air. It’s two-way protection. If you have the virus and don’t know it, wearing a mask keeps you from infecting others. If you’re not sick, a mask keeps you from being exposed to the virus if other people cough, sneeze or speak near you. A mask isn’t fool-proof, but it provides more protection than wearing nothing. This video provides information on the type of mask you need and how to wear it for the most protection.

2. Distancing. That’s what we were doing during quarantine. By staying at home, each of us probably reduced by 90 percent the number of people with whom we normally interact. As we return to the outside world, we need to continue social distancing. Keeping 6 to 12 feet away from others can help protect us from the virus.

3. Hand washing. Any time I’m away from home, I assume I’m surrounded by COVID-19. The virus may be present on any surface you touch – door handles, tables, bathroom sinks. That’s why you should be washing or sanitizing your hands five or 10 times a day when you’re at work or otherwise away from home. Wash your hands after you’ve touched any common surface. For example, if you’ve walked up a flight of stairs to get to your office – and touched a hand rail or door latch during the walk, immediately go to the restroom and wash your hands as soon as you arrive on your floor. Or go to a hand sanitizer station and sanitize your hands. Here is advice on proper hand washing.

4. Don’t touch your face. COVID-19 enters your respiratory system through your nose, mouth and perhaps your eyes. So it’s imperative that you not touch your face. Even if your hands are covered with the virus, you can’t get infected unless you touch your face. This is a tough habit to break – by some estimates, we touch our faces 90 times a day. Wearing a mask can help. Some people also make it a habit to keep their hands in their laps whenever they are sitting.

These precautions for the new normal of COVID-19 only work if everyone does them. If only 50 percent of us follow these guidelines, the virus will continue to spread and infect more. Consider the fight against COVID-19 a team sport. We aren’t playing singles tennis. This is football. We are UCF Knights and our opponent in this effort is the virus. Let’s all Charge On!

COVID-19 health tips are brought to you by UCF’s Academic Health Sciences Center (AHSC), which includes the Colleges of Health Professions and Sciences (CHPS), Medicine, Nursing and Student Health Services. 

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