What Essential Workers Can Do to Stay Safe During the Coronavirus Outbreak

April 26, 2020

Millions of people across the U.S. are staying home and practicing social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. However, there are countless workers that are still going to work every day to keep our communities running.

Many essential personnel who work in critical sectors from food service and grocery, to law enforcement and public works are largely required to continue to report for duty. So what can these mission critical workers do to stay safe?

Steps You Can Take

If you do have to work, here are a few things you can do to stay safe amid the spread of COVID-19:

  1. Wash your hands often, especially if you frequently interact with the public in your job.
  2. Keep hand sanitizer on hand in case you aren’t able to reach a sink during your work day.
  3. Try to maintain a safe distance from all people you encounter. That means staying at least 6 feet apart.
  4. Avoid sharing a ride with a friend or co-worker. If at all possible, travel to and from work alone.
  5. Wear a mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently urging the public to wear a cloth face covering when in public.
  6. Leave accessories home like jewelry, ties, rings and watches.
  7. If you wear contacts, consider glasses. This will help keep your fingers out of your eyes and also provide additional protection.

Have a plan when you are ready to come home

While the CDC has not issued guidance on how long, if at all, the virus can live on clothing – washing your clothes immediately after your shift is probably a good idea. Here are a few tips:

  • If possible, change into clean clothes before coming home. If not, have a bag available near the entrance to your home that you can put dirty clothes into.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after removing your dirty clothes and before touching clean clothes.
  • Take off the shoes you wore to work before entering your home.
  • Wash dirty clothes right away using your usual laundry detergent.
  • Take normal precautions like cleaning high-touch surfaces and washing hands often.

Things to Consider

COVID-19 is known to infect everyone from young children to senior adults. It’s important to know that no one is immune to this new virus and everyone should follow proper precautions, especially if you’re tasked with interacting with the public during this time.

If you are older or have serious medical conditions, it’s critical that you take every precaution seriously to protect yourself. Those conditions can include:

  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Cancer
  • A compromised immune system

Many pregnant women are also understandably concerned about working during the pandemic. Based on limited data regarding COVID-19 and pregnancy, both the CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have not proposed creating additional restrictions on pregnant personnel because of COVID-19 alone. Learn more about what pregnant moms should know about COVID-19.

If you are an essential worker potentially interacting with COVID-19 positive people, it’s important to follow your employer’s specific guidelines for personal protective equipment in your work environment.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.