Since COVID-19 hit these shores, experts have provided advice to the public on how to avoid catching it. This advice has flip-flopped, mutated, changed, and evolved dramatically throughout the year, as they learned more about the coronavirus.
“When you take a completely novel virus, you are starting out from a position of by default knowing nothing,” says Dr. Carl Bergstrom from the University of Washington. “You can at best make guesses based on what you know about previous coronaviruses and prior outbreaks of other respiratory viruses.”
Now that scientists are learning more and more about how COVID-19 behaves, advice on staying healthy is more solid and defined. Here are eight things experts may have advised you to do in the past but you no longer need to do. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
You Don’t Have to Wipe Down Grocery Bags
When lockdown first started, not only was it advised to have groceries delivered, but we were also told to wipe down all items with anti-bacterial wipes or cleaner before putting them away. But now that more is known about virus transmission, it’s just not necessary to disinfect every box of crackers anymore.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the world’s top infectious disease doctor, originally warned that COVID-19 can live on inanimate objects, such as groceries. However, he concluded it’s “very likely a very, very minor, minor aspect.” Now, when it comes to wiping down items, Fauci says, “I think we should spend less time worrying about wiping down a grocery bag than we should about just washing our hands frequently.” So do so after bringing the groceries home.
You Don’t Have to Wear Gloves
In the early days of the pandemic, a safe trip to the grocery store meant dressing like a doctor who was prepped for surgery. But now, experts are walking back their advice to wear gloves in public. In fact, this protective measure may actually backfire.
“Wearing gloves sounds like a good idea to protect yourself from COVID-19, but in fact, gloves provide a false sense of security and may actually increase the virus’ spread,” says Erica Hoyt, RN, CNE, CHSE from UCF’s College of Nursing. Instead, wash your hands regularly or, if you don’t have that option available, use hand sanitizer.
You Don’t Have to Stockpile Toilet Paper
It’s a good idea to keep stock of the items you’ll need in case there’s another stay at home order. But there’s no need to hoard toilet paper like consumers did when COVID-19 first started. The supply chain has caught up to the demand and there’s no need to worry about shortages, even if a new quarantine is announced.
“The average U.S. household (2.6 people) uses 409 equivalized regular rolls per year. Using our own calculations, staying at home 24-7 would result in ~40% increase vs. average daily usage,” a Georgia-Pacific LLC spokesperson told the TODAY Show. This increase is hardly enough to warrant stockpiling a six-month supply of paper products.
You Don’t Have to Treat Every Package Like It’s Toxic Waste
Just like groceries, in the early time of COVID-19, we were told to disinfect packages and deliveries as they came to the door. While it is true that there’s a small chance the virus can be found on these packages, it’s hardly a must-do task to prevent contracting coronavirus.
“Because of the poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely a very low risk of spread from food products or packaging,” according to the CDC. It’s still a good idea to remove the packaging from your home and wash your hands afterwards.
You Don’t Have to Fear Shoes Spreading COVID (But They Can Make You Sick)
It was once thought that you could track the virus into your home and potentially catch it from germs on your shoes.
However, “the likelihood of COVID-19 being spread on shoes and infecting individuals is very low,” according to the WHO. That doesn’t mean other gross stuff can’t be spread. “Researchers tracked new shoes worn by 10 participants for two weeks and found that coliform bacteria like E. coli were extremely common on the outside of the shoes,” reports the New York Times. “E. coli is known to cause intestinal and urinary tract infections as well as meningitis, among other illnesses.”
You Don’t Have to Take A Bunch of Vitamin Supplements
Getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need is essential to your health. And vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D are known to help boost your immune system. However, extra doses of these immune-boosting vitamins won’t do you any good and won’t protect you from COVID-19.
“There is currently no guidance on the use of micronutrient supplements as a treatment of COVID-19,” the WHO states. However, maybe in the future, there will be a supplement that could lessen your chances of contracting the virus. “WHO is coordinating efforts to develop and evaluate medicines to treat COVID-19.”
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, most “so-called immune boosting supplements” actually do “nothing.” However, he says, “If you are deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection. So I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself taking vitamin D supplements.” Fauci also called vitamin C “a good antioxidant.” “So if people want to take a gram or two at the most [of] vitamin C, that would be fine,” he said.
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You Don’t Have to Take Hydroxychloroquine Preventatively—or Maybe at All
Hydroxychloroquine was always a controversial potential treatment for COVID-19, but the rumors began flying about this drug as soon as the virus began to spread. Usually a treatment for malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus, experts wondered if hydroxychloroquine could be used to lessen the severity of the virus.
“The use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine is accepted as generally safe for patients with malaria and autoimmune diseases, but its use where not indicated and without medical supervision can cause serious side effects and should be avoided,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
So What Do You Have to Do? Follow Fauci’s Fundamentals
So what should you do? Do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.