Back to the basics: At-home COVID prevention tips

Coronavirus
Virus Outbreak-Viral Questions-Masks

What type of mask should I be wearing? (AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)

(WFXR) — The latest COVID-19 variant — omicron — has health officials concerned as it has been spreading rapidly around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released helpful ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with some back to the basics information.

OVER-THE-COUNTER SELF-TEST

You can buy a self-test at a retail store or pharmacy and no prescription is needed. The FDA broke down the steps on how to use a BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen self-test:

PREPPING THE SURFACE:

  1. Disinfect the surface where you will use the test and wash your hands.
  2. Double-check all of the components are in the test kit: one swab, one test card in pouch, one dropper bottle, and a way to time the test.
  3. The FDA says not to touch any parts of the inside and handle the card only by the edges.
This image provided by Abbott Laboratories shows the company’s BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 nasal swab test. After months of struggling to ramp up coronavirus testing, the U.S. is now capable of testing some 3 million people daily thanks to a growing supply of rapid tests. But the testing boom comes with a new challenge: keeping track of the results. (Photo: Courtesy Abbott Laboratories via AP)

PREPPING THE TEST:

  1. Remove the test from the pouch and make sure the blue control line is present in the window.
  2. Open the card and lay it flat on the table with the pink side down. Do not touch the test strip.
  3. Remove the dropper cap, hold the dropper bottle straight over top hole, and put six drops into the hole. Do not touch the card with the tip.
  4. False negative results may occur if you put more than six drops of fluid into the top hole.

COLLECTING NASAL SAMPLE:

  1. Remove the swab from the package and do not touch the soft end with your hands or anything else.
  2. Insert the entire soft end of the swab into your nostril, no more than 3/4 of an inch into your nose.
  3. Slowly rotate the swab, gently pressing against the inside of your nostril at least four times for a total of 15 seconds. You want to get as much nasal discharge as possible on the soft end of the swab.
  4. Gently remove the swab.
  5. Using the same swab, repeat these steps in your other nostril with the same end of the swab.

PERFORMING THE TEST:

  1. After collecting the sample, insert the swab tip into the lower hole and then firmly push the tip from the lower hole until it is visible in the top hole.
  2. Turn the swab to the right three times to mix the swab with the drops.
  3. Leave the swab in the card for the remainder of the test.
  4. Peel the adhesive liner and carefully do not touch other parts of the card.
  5. Fold the card from the left side and press firmly on the two lines on the edge of the card to seal it.
  6. Wait 15 minutes, then read the results between 15 to 30 minutes. (A control line may appear in the result window in a few minutes, but a sample line may take as long as 15 minutes to appear.)

READING THE TEST:

  • Positive result: If you see two pink/purple lines, one on the top half and one on the bottom half
Positive results from self-test (Photo: Courtesy FDA website)
  • Negative result: Only one pink/purple line on the top half in the “Control” area
Negative results from self-test (Photo: Courtesy FDA website)

Invalid test results could happen, which means a new test is needed. If your results are any of the following you will need to take a new test: blue control line only, no lines seen, pink/purple sample line only, or blue control and pink/purple sample line.

Invalid test results from self-test (Photo: Courtesy FDA website)

When finished, throw away the test kit and report your results to your healthcare provider and through the NAVICA app. Clean the surface after you have completed the test and wash your hands.

If you aren’t testing right away, read how to store the test properly and check the expiration date before using it.

If you are planning to take a second test you should wait at least 24 hours but no more than 48 hours between tests.

HOW TO CLEAN YOUR MASK

The CDC states that wearing a mask indoor public places can help prevent possibly spreading COVID. However, these masks need to be cleaned as soon as they become dirty, or at least once a day, according to the CDC. There are two options when cleaning your mask: a washing machine and dryer, or hand wash and hang dry.

Below are tips on how to properly clean your mask when using a washing machine and dryer.

Below are tips on how to properly clean your mask when hand washing and hanging dry.

HOW TO STORE YOUR MASK

According to the CDC, if your mask is wet or dirty, you should store it in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash it. The mask can become wet or dirty from sweat, saliva, or other liquids or substances. Health officials encourage people to wash their masks as soon as possible to prevent mold.

Clean masks should be stored in a breathable bag, like a paper bag or mesh fabric bag, in between uses. When reusing your mask, keep the same side facing out.

If you are eating or drinking, the CDC suggests putting your mask in your pocket, purse, or paper bag. Before removing or putting it back on, health officials say to wash or sanitize your hands.

HOW TO PREVENT SPREADING COVID TO OTHERS

The CDC urges people to take these steps to prevent the spread of COVID to others:

  • Stay home if you can
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay six feet apart
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands
  • Get vaccinated when it’s available to you

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