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10 Mar ’20

Love in the Time of COVID-19

Posted by James Elliott
CDC Illustration of ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses
CDC Illustration of ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses

This post is going to focus on one topic which – pardon the pun – plagues our global news: the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The information in this post is taken directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and I will note those citations for your reference. Knowledge is power and the best defense against infection is a clean offense.

There are two numbers you should remember when practicing preventative hygiene during the COVID-19 epidemic.[1]

  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
  • If soap and water are not readily available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used.

Let’s talk hand sanitizer for a moment. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.[2] You can always wash your hands when you arrive at your destination, but hand sanitizer is especially useful when you’re on the go.

You can make your own hand sanitizer using alcohol and pure aloe vera gel, but you also have to do the math. (I know. Sorry.)

  • If you have 91% Isopropyl Alcohol, the recipe is 4 parts alcohol and 2 parts aloe vera gel. The math: (4/6)*0.91 = 0.60 or 60% alcohol.
  • If you have 70% Isopropyl Alcohol, the recipe is 11 parts alcohol and 1 part aloe vera gel. (11/12)*0.7 = 0.64 or 64% alcohol. Using 70% alcohol will yield a watery sanitizer, but it meets the CDC recommendation.

You may have seen other DIY recipes online using vodka. Unless you are using 190 Proof Everclear or Polmos Spirytus Rektyfikowany 192 Proof vodka, brands like Tito’s, Absolut, Grey Goose, Ketel One, and Smirnoff vodka lack sufficient alcohol content. If you have Everclear or Spirytus, you can follow the 91% isopropyl alcohol recipe.

Essential oils are not antiviral. You can add a drop or two of essential oil to your hand sanitizer but you honestly don’t need to add anything. If you do choose to add essential oil, remember that citrus oils such as lemon and bergamot are phototoxic, and you should never use lemon verbena as it’s both phototoxic and skin sensitizing. Try 1 drop each of lavender, mint, and rosemary for their calming aromatherapeutic properties.

Remember these preventative actions[3]

  1. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Avoid touching your face.
  3. Stay home when you are sick.
  4. Cover coughs and sneezes.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Lastly, I would encourage you to practice compassion with yourself and others. Check in with your friends and neighbors to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. If you are self isolating, be sure to take periodic work breaks with stretches or gentle exercises.

It will take some time for life to resume its everyday normalcy, but for now just do your best to keep calm and wash your hands.


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