As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to rise across the state, people must educate themselves about the symptoms and how to prevent the virus' spread in their own homes.

If someone in your household becomes ill with the coronavirus, it's important to keep that person isolated and away from other people and pets in the house as much as possible for the duration of the illness. If available, a separate bathroom should be used.

Even when an infected person is being isolated, it is still important to clean and disinfect often-touched surfaces on a daily basis throughout the home. Doorknobs, light switches, sinks, faucets, handles on kitchen cabinets, countertops, remote controls, cell phones and toilet handles are just a few places that should be cleaned frequently. Disposable gloves are also advised.

If the household cleaning supplies are running low, make a disinfecting solution of one-third cup of household bleach and a gallon of water. A smaller amount can be made with the same ratio of 4 teaspoons of bleach to 1 quart of water. The solution can be used to disinfect hard surfaces in the home.

Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and be sure to discard after each use. Regardless of whether gloves are worn or not, it is recommended to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling that person's belongings or cleaning up in their isolation space.

Launder the items according to the instructions on the garment, using the warmest water possible and dry everything completely. There is no problem washing a sick person's laundry with others' laundry. Remember to clean and disinfect the clothes hamper or basket.

It is very important to keep hands clean to help prevent the spread of germs, regardless of if they are taking care of an ill person. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol, can be used. Also, wash hands after using the restroom; before preparing or eating food; after contact with animals or pet; and after blowing one's nose, coughing or sneezing.

For those who are providing routine care for another person who is not ill, such as a child or elderly parent, it's a good idea to wash your hands before and after providing assistance. Cleaning surfaces and washing hands is routine for most people, but in this time of the coronavirus pandemic, it's more important now than ever.

For information, contact the OSU Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County by phone at 918-456-6163.

Heather Winn is a family and consumer sciences educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.

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