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COVID-19: Touching public spaces

Consumer Reports has tips to help keep you safe when you have to go out

ST. LOUIS — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, people are being asked to limit the time they spend in public. But there are essential things you may have to leave your house for: food, gas, cash. 

All the surfaces you end up touching when you’re out could be contaminated with the coronavirus. Consumer Reports has tips to help keep you safe when you have to go out.

While the coronavirus appears to be spread mostly when people cough or sneeze and respiratory droplets land on those nearby, research suggests that it may survive on surfaces made from a variety of materials for hours or even days.

To help protect yourself, avoid touching surfaces with your fingertips. Instead use a pen or your knuckle to press an elevator button or an ATM keypad or a touch screen.

If you can’t avoid a high-touch surface, carry tissues with you and use them to grab a doorknob or handrail. Just be sure to throw them away right after using. Another option is using your sleeve to cover your hand or finger.

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Your smartphone isn’t a public surface, but it too can harbor bacteria, viruses, and other germs. Clean it often with a wipe that has 70 percent isopropyl.

It’s also recommended that you power down your smartphone before cleaning it, and avoid using bleach, submerging it in cleaning agents, or allowing moisture to enter any openings.

And of course, even after doing all of these things, wash your hands as soon as you can and avoid touching your face.

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