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Still going into work? Here's how to stay safe during COVID-19

Posted at 10:26 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 00:26:51-04

SALT LAKE CITY — While many people in Utah are staying safe by working from home, especially in light of recent county stay-at-home orders, there are a huge number of people who still need to physically go into their workplaces to do their jobs.

What's the best way to keep their work space-- and themselves-- safe during COVID-19?

The Salt Lake County Health Department has some tips:

1. Stay six feet away from co-workers and customers

This seems obvious, in light of all the pushes by local and state leaders to practice social distancing. But Andrea Gamble, Environmental Health Scientist at the Salt Lake County Health Department, explains that this is one of the single most important things anyone can do.

She said the CDC explained that coronaviruses aren't transmitted through fomites. A fomite, she said, is an object or material like clothing, utensils, furniture, shopping carts, etc.

"It's spread from person to person through close contact," Gamble said. "So if you're within six feet of a person, [you can get sick] through respiratory droplets like coughing and sneezing."

2. Frequently wash your hands, and don't just rely on hand sanitizer

"If you do touch a surface and you wash your hands, then you are going to be protected," Gamble said. "Especially before you touch your face or before you eat."

3. Sanitize high-touch surfaces every 30 minutes

Gamble identified high-touch surfaces as a surface that employees are touching over and over-- like handles, for example.

Because sanitizing wipes can be hard to come by, Gamble recommended making a bleach mixture with 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water.

"Just put it in a spray bottle and you can spray it on a surface and the contact time is about two minutes, and you could clean any high-touch areas in your office space," she said.

4. Conduct employee health screenings

Health screenings can come in the form of a supervisor asking an employee a short list of questions before they start work.

"Have you had a fever, have you had coughing, how are you feeling?" Gamble listed off.

Anyone with symptoms should talk to a medical provider, she said, and anyone who is sick needs to stay home.

She especially recommended employee health screenings for any food establishment.

5. After you get home from work, continue hand washing

"Before you do anything, before you touch anything, properly wash your hands," Gamble said.

Even if you wear gloves while working or while out and about in the community, she said particles can still get on your hands.

Click here for additional recommendations on protecting yourself from COVID-19.