…worry about being exposed to COVID-19 from grocery shopping or buying takeout food?

In short, it’s highly unlikely that food is a vector for spreading COVID-19 (although we don’t know for sure yet). This article explains why this is not a major concern, and goes into the safety regulations that food preparers should observe.

…try to exercise even when I’m isolating at home? (How can I do that without equipment?)

Yes, regular physical exercise is especially important to our physical and mental health in these trying times. Walking, hiking, running, and bicycling for exercise are permitted under the California shelter in place order, so long as people maintain social distance.

But if you or someone in your house has likely been exposed to the coronavirus, it’s safest to stay at home. Here are some stretches and exercises you can do without leaving the house.

…wear a mask if I’m not a healthcare worker?

Because it is difficult for untrained people to remove a mask without being exposed to viruses that may have landed on its outside surfaces, it’s not recommended that people other than trained healthcare workers wear a mask to protect themselves from exposure.

If you suspect you are infected, you may well be spreading the virus even if you are exhibiting none of its symptoms. In that case, wearing a mask whenever you are around other people will reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease. And you should definitely wear one when getting medical attention, if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

If you do wear a mask, be sure it’s used correctly [1] and that facial hair doesn’t get in the way [2].

…wear gloves if I’m not a healthcare worker?

For similar reasons, wearing gloves will not protect our hands from the coronavirus unless we take the same precautions that we would with ungloved hands, and unless they are removed properly. (Otherwise, they just continue to spread the virus from one surface to another.) If you do wear disposable nitrile gloves, follow these instructions when removing them. [1]

…try making my own DIY hand sanitizer? disinfectant? masks?

Maybe. Here are some links to help decide:

  • Hand sanitizers’ active ingredient is alcohol (either isopropyl or ethanol). Any other ingredients are there either to make it less harsh on the skin, and/or to add a scent (and possibly to add anti-bacterial action, which has no affect on viruses). To kill a coronavirus, a sanitizer or hand rub has to be at least 60% alcohol in total. The World Health Organization has instructions for local production that can be scaled down for personal use [1]
  • A simple bleach and water solution is also effective in killing a coronavirus on household surfaces. Don’t use it on cloth, leather, or skin, however [2]. Be careful not to mix disinfectants in toxic combinations! [3]
  • With shortages in some places of professional-grade masks, people are being encouraged to use cloth masks for personal use (so as to leave  professional-grade masks available to health care personnel). Here is a good instructional video [4] and this article explains the best fabrics to use [5].

…put myself at risk by staying home?

For too many people, the painful reality is that abusive relationships mean it’s not always safe to stay home. If the shelter in place order puts you at risk of domestic violence, ask for help. Call the Domestic Violence Hotline (at 1-800-799-7233, or text the message text LOVEIS to 22522), or use the 211 crisis referral service to get assistance.

…be a blood donor during this pandemic?

Please do! A coronavirus does not spread through blood products, so you need not worry about giving it to someone else through donation if you’re asymptomatic. And blood banks are careful to avoid spreading the coronavirus in the process. Most blood banks’ supplies of blood, platelets, and plasma are low. Eligible folks are encouraged to donate if they feel well and have none of the other risk factors for COVID-19. [1]