I start each morning by taking my temperature with an infrared thermometer and my oxygen level with my oximeter. I check the conjunctival tissue in my eyes in the mirror; examine my feet for covid-19 toes, which are skin lesions or bumps. I take a quick whiff of something smelly like peanut butter or perfume.
If I pass all these tests, I can enter the world. I fold a tissue and place it inside the top of my mask to absorb moisture and prevent steaming or sweating. I wear a face shield over my mask should anyone sneeze or cough on me, which might protect from droplets, although I know that aerosols can creep around facial shields.
I protect my eyes with “onion goggles” that have a sponge around the inside and provides a tighter fit than regular glasses. I wash them with soap and water, which seems to reduce fogging better than the “fog cloths” I purchased.
I wear disposable gloves and keep extra ones in my glove compartment and handbag, which I remove from my wrist and turn inside out, disposing of them in the nearest trash receptacle without touching.
I remove everything before I get in my car (or house) if I’ve been somewhere like a doctor’s office. In the car, I put everything in a large brown paper bag and drench my hands with sanitizer I keep away from the sun, so the alcohol doesn’t start a fire. I sanitize the car’s indoor and outdoor door handles, steering wheel, gear shift and radio buttons before I turn the air conditioner off and open the front and back windows during the trip so anything left will hopefully fly away.
Once home, having been careful not to touch my face on the trip there, I immediately wash my hands. I place each hand over the other and rub with interlaced fingers, exchanging hands, and making sure to also wash between the fingers as well as the fingertips and thumbs, which I rub rotationally in both directions. Every few washes a day, I use a nail brush under my nails and moisturizer on my hands, since I read that if your hands dry out from all the washing, the virus can hide in microscopic cracks in the skin. Once I sanitize the doorknob, I wash my face and then sanitize toilet handles and faucets.
The next thing is not something I am suggesting you do; a friend of mine who worked for Pfizer told me that as long as I’m buying the soap, I should stick some up into each nostril and wash it out a bit. He also suggested isopropyl alcohol, not to drink, but to dip a Q-Tip in and then gently move it around the inside of each nostril. It may sound almost as ridiculous as the suggestion to somehow put bleach into our bodies, but a little bit of soap and alcohol probably can’t hurt. I also dab my eyelids with Ocusoft Lid Scrub in the hopes that any virus on my eyelids won’t go any further.
I also order absolutely everything online so I will not have to go to a store. If I have to sign a credit card slip, I use the pen I keep in the car and handbag.
I also have delivery people put all items down a few feet from the door and I bring them in after. I put the bags in the sink, take the food out, spray antiseptic in the sink, on the door jamb and refrigerator handles I touched to put things away. I then wash my hands, face, nose and eyes.
When I come in contact with a person, I hold my breath and turn my face away, regardless of whether they wear a mask. I try to make all doctor’s appointments as early as possible and wait in my car until a few minutes before my appointment time rather than in a waiting room.
I don’t go into post offices — I purchased $100 worth of stamps once the pandemic started — banks or drugstores unless they have contact-free branches. If I have to pick up takeout dinners from a restaurant, I sit in the car and tell them to put the food in the trunk of my car (which I have opened from the inside the car) and to take the $5 bill I have left for them.
I also pay my hairdresser and manicurist extra to come to my house, and we both wear masks while she works on my hair and nails on our outdoor terrace. I also no longer have someone in weekly to clean but try to keep our place clean myself (vacuuming sucks), and once a month I have someone deep clean. After the woman leaves, I open all windows and doors to aerate the place and go through my whole personal cleaning routine. I also have Sherpa bags for my two Shi Tzus, which I leave outside the door of their groomers or vet, and call when we arrive so they pick the dogs up with no contact.
None of my friends are as paranoid as me. One couple, after assuring me that they never go to a store or restaurant, brought a pizza over to our place for us to share — which they purchased at Costco. When I asked another friend, who swore fealty to social distancing, about her beautiful nails, she said she had a manicure once a week before quickly adding that she only goes when no one else is in the salon at the time. Another “cautious” friend said she only goes to restaurants on weekends — as if the virus takes off then.
Meanwhile, I use my knuckles to press doorbells and elevator buttons. While I haven’t yet purchased a noncontact door opener (I use the bottom of my shirt for that) or shoe covers, I buy plenty of pocket tissues, which I keep in my car and also at my desk so I don’t touch my face with my bare hands. I regularly use our phone sanitizer for my and my husband’s iPhones as well as our keys and credit cards. I also have an ultraviolet sanitizer that I purchased to sanitize my makeup brushes and our toothbrushes, iPads, computer keyboards, and my masks, although I usually also leave masks in the sun after using.
I understand I may still get covid-19. So I try to strengthen my lung capacity by swimming and doing breathing exercises with my spirometer while I watch TV. To build up my strength in case I should need it, I walk, lift seven-pound weights and do brief bouts on our stationary bike. I’m more diligent about my flossing and water picking than I used to be since I’ve cut out routine dental cleaning.
If all this sounds overcautious, consider that almost 12,000 people have died in the state where I live; there are few indications that life will improve for a long time. Since so few others take this virus seriously, can you blame me for taking every step to avoid getting sick? Perhaps others need to scrub their eyes, too, to see the clear danger.