An Infection Prevention Expert’s Advice for Navigating the Pandemic

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Whitney Robinson is an infection preventionist at Renown Health. She helps protect our healthcare workers and patients from germs. Her work at the frontline of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has given her the insight to offer some valuable tips to help protect you and your loved ones as you navigate life.

A New Routine 

Like everyone else, Whitney has made changes in her daily routine to keep herself safe and healthy.

“The most obvious change in my daily routine is wearing a mask in public and around others, and I practice social distancing,” she says. “I’ve also started doing FaceTime calls with my extended family to keep in touch rather than having in-person gatherings.”

Echoing the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Whitney encourages you to:

  1. Wear a face mask in public and around others.
  2. Practice social and physical distancing.
  3. Wash your hands often or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly.

Whitney says she empathizes with anyone who may feel hesitant about wearing face masks. They can be uncomfortable and look strange at first. However, you can protect others by wearing a face mask. She encourages everyone to experiment and find what works for them!

infection preventionist
Whitney Robinson, Infection Preventionist

“Look into different options to make masks more comfortable and attractive, such as using colorful fabrics. You can also attach the ear loops to buttons on a hat or headband to take the strain off your ears.”

RELATED: The Best Way To Clean A Cloth Mask

Tips for Running Errands

Here are a few tips and practices Whitney uses while she’s running errands out in public:

Make a list.

“I make a list of everything I need before I leave the house,” Whitney says. “This way, I can get in and out of public areas quickly.”

Avoid busy times at the store.

If you can, go to the store when it is not busy. “With fewer people around, you can better maintain a 6-foot distance between yourself and everyone else,” Whitney says.

Carry hand sanitizer.

Try to carry hand sanitizer with you while going out in public. “Many places may not have public hand sanitizer or a place for you to wash your hands,” Whitney says.

Keep a spare face mask and disinfectant wipes in your car.

“I make sure I have a spare mask in my car just in case I need to stop somewhere that I wasn’t planning,” she says. “I also bring disinfectant wipes in my car and purse to wipe down any commonly touched surfaces such as shopping carts, the steering wheel and door handles.”

Find a Healthy Hobby

It is entirely understandable to be feeling pandemic fatigue. You can’t seem to turn anywhere without seeing or hearing about COVID-19, which can be mentally exhausting. To find relief from her pandemic fatigue, Whitney is focused on getting outside more.

“It can feel like a vicious cycle of being cooped up at home or in the workplace,” she says. “I make it a priority to get outside. Taking a walk after work – while socially distancing, of course – or getting out for hikes on the weekends helps refresh my mindset. I also started a small garden this year, and it’s exciting to walk outside to get fresh produce rather than have to go to the store.”

RELATED: Wearing a Mask in the Summer Heat? Remember to Drink Water

Remind Yourself of Your “Why” 

It’s challenging to stick to your new routine wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, no matter how much has changed in your daily life. That’s why Whitney likes to remind herself of why she needs to continue her daily safety practices.

“I have seen first-hand how serious COVID-19 can be,” she says. “I want to prevent myself and my loved ones from contracting the virus, but also want to prevent the spread in the community. Because I was born and raised in the Reno area, I love working to keep this community and the people I love healthy and safe.”

Whitney asks that we think about our loved ones and community, and consider how you would feel if they were in the hospital or sick with COVID-19. You can help prevent this by wearing a mask out in public.

“Keep in mind, some healthcare workers wear respirators for entire shifts! Think of the most vulnerable person you know and wear a mask for them, not just for you.”