Stop Hitting Yourself

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I have always taken a pretty lax attitude towards reinfecting myself via environmental contamination in my personal space. Once I have an illness multiplying inside my cells, the additional exposure from touching my face after touching a doorknob should be minimal, and once I’m immune to it, I’m immune. Not touching my face ever seemed like a real drop in quality of life. Plus air kills everything fairly quickly.

In the case of SARVS-CoV-2, I have changed my mind, for a combination of reasons.

  1. There are reports of people becoming reinfected. Details are fuzzy around this, most stories use the word “recovered” without clarifying whether the person tested negative or was simply asymptomatic (China requires a negative test, but, uh…China)*. It’s also possible the disease is biphasic, meaning the relapse was inevitable and not brought on by reexposure.
  2. Unclear about this particular strain, but coronaviruses in general have some heroic longevity on surfaces.

 

*[I want to be clear here that I think the US numbers and handling of COVID-19 are also terrible]

Luckily there’s a fairly cheap way to dramatically limit your exposure: cover commonly touched surfaces with copper (Connor Flexman’s research here). Everyone’s recommending copper tape: that seems reasonable to me but I can’t find any studies on copper tape in particular, much less specific brands. I ordered this set (affiliate link) because it came in multiple widths and that seemed useful, but I’m not vouching for it over other tape. Once it arrives I’m going to cover all my common surfaces. I’m especially looking forward to doing my sink handle, since I touch it when my hands are both dirtiest and cleanest.

I’m also upping my handwashing. Handwashing is getting a lot of attention right now, but no one is talking about the costs, which is dry skin. Dry skin leads to cracks in your hand that are more vulnerable to infection than unbroken skin (Source: My previous dermatologist). You can fight this by being religious about using lotion. I’m using Palmer’s (affiliate link) because I had it lying around; it seems to be working.