By now, most of us have fallen into some sort of routine and are doing our best to protect ourselves, our families and community from COVID-19. We wash our hands, we wear a mask in public, and we physically distance. Even though we know the CDC guidelines, it can be difficult to know when and how to apply those guidelines to our everyday lives. Two Dignity Health Medical Group physicians, Zachary Brewer, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon and Syama Varudu, MD, an Internal Medicine physician with Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group, share the best practices that they use every day.
When and where do you wear a mask?
Dr. Brewer: I wear a mask any time I am indoors and around other people. When I am alone, I take it off, but when I encounter someone, I reflexively put it back on. I wear a mask outdoors when I am unable to maintain 6 feet of social distancing. This has been a very easy change for me because I wear a mask in the operating room, which is where I spend most of my time while working. Not only that, while operating I routinely have extra carbon dioxide pumping into my operative field to minimize air inside the heart. I have never felt suffocated or unable to breathe, despite the carbon dioxide being blown into my face!
When you go grocery shopping or run errands, how do you make sure you are physically distancing?
Dr. Brewer: I try to run errands during non-peak hours, and I carry a list of the items I need to minimize my time in the store. When waiting in line, I keep a safe amount of space between myself and the next person. I use Apple Pay whenever possible so I don’t need to touch anything at the checkout line. Whenever possible, I place my order ahead of time so that it is ready when I arrive.
Dr. Varudu: I usually pick a time to visit a store when they have less traffic. I stay aware of my surroundings and am more cautious, especially of people around me not following proper precautions.
In your home, what surfaces do you disinfect and how often? Are there other cleaning practices you abide by?
Dr. Brewer: With young kids, our house can get messy, so we do everything we can to keep it clean. There is constant cleaning and disinfecting going on.
Dr. Varudu: I disinfect commonly used surfaces such as kitchen counters and desktops daily and clean door knobs and restrooms 1-2 times a week.
What hobbies or activities do you currently enjoy? Are there any outdoor or public activities you enjoy that are safe for you and your family?
Dr. Brewer: I enjoy running outside and riding on my OneWheel, which is kind of like a motorized skateboard. Both easily allow for proper social distancing. Our family loves to go to the park for picnics and we always stay a safe distance away from any other groups.
Dr. Varudu: I walk daily, not in groups or in crowded places, and do home exercises including yoga and meditation.
Do you disinfect your deliveries? (E.g. mail, groceries, packages)
Dr. Brewer: I typically try to remove any outer packaging or boxes outside the house and then take them directly to recycling bin, so they never enter my home. Then I immediately wash my hands. I don’t disinfect my groceries, I just wash my hands right after I put them away. I think there is an extremely low likelihood of transmission that way.
Dr. Varudu: Always.
How are you keeping in touch with friends and family? Is it only virtually or do you find ways to see them?
Dr. Brewer: I frequently have Zoom or FaceTime sessions to keep in touch with family and friends. We rarely have guests over to our home, but when we do, we stay outside and appropriately distance ourselves. If we are eating, we have our own separate containers of food and utensils that are not cross-contaminated.
Dr. Varudu: Virtually mostly. Also, we do try to see each other once a week with a limited number of people in places with good air flow, such as walking or in a backyard with masks, always keeping 6 feet of physical distance.
What additional precautions do you take when you have to be in public? (e.g. a gas station, grocery store)
Dr. Brewer: I keep hand sanitizer in my car door so I can immediately sanitize my hands after pumping gas or running errands. I only wear disposable masks because I find them more comfortable and never have to worry about washing them or accumulating germs on them.
Dr. Varudu: I keep hand sanitizer readily available to use. Whenever I touch something in public, I use hand sanitizer and avoid touching my face, nose and eyes and wash my hands thoroughly. I will make sure that my kids take shower immediately after they go home.
Whether you are trying to enjoy outdoor activities, spend valuable time with loved ones, or running routine errands, there are ways to practice CDC guidelines to help slow the spread of the virus. For more ways on how to protect yourself and our community, visit the Dignity Health Medical Group blog.