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The occasional home repair is unavoidable. Over time, things will go wrong in our homes and need fixing. But the pandemic, and the way in which COVID-19 spreads, means that permitting essential workers access to your home poses an increased risk of contracting the virus. Those who are infected with the novel coronavirus can spread it without having any symptoms. "Anytime someone comes into your home, there's a risk that they could be bringing the virus—without meaning to—with them," explains Sherif Mossad, M.D., an infectious disease expert at Cleveland Clinic.
So, how can you safely have contractors, plumbers, and other professional service workers in your home right now? It's a good idea to check the professional's website to comply with their coronavirus procedures. Then, following the guidelines outlined by the CDC is the best way to stay safe during this pandemic. Implement these protocols at home and you'll be prepared before they cross your threshold.
Everyone should wear a mask.
According to the CDC, masks help to slow the spread of the virus. "A mask should cover your mouth and your nose. It should be snug but comfortable against the sides of your face, and you should be able to breathe without restriction," says Dr. Mossad. "Don't wear your mask around your neck or chin, or over your head—that doesn't protect anyone." Anyone who enters your home, who does not also live with you, should wear a mask while they are inside of your home. You should also don a mask throughout the visit because it is a courtesy to protect the workers from getting the virus from you or your household, if you have it and don't know it.
Maintain recommended distance.
In addition to wearing masks, Dr. Mossad says that everyone should keep at least six feet of distance between one another. This is another recommendation from the CDC, and it should be followed when you have contractors in your home. Social distancing slows the spread of the virus because it reduces your contact with infected respiratory particles. Coughing, sneezing, and talking release droplets into the air, so the combination of masks and social distancing help to reduce the risk of the virus spreading this way.
Clean hands before and after.
Repair workers and contractors should "clean [their] hands when entering homes," says Dr. Mossad. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at the door or provide sanitizing hand wipes for people to clean their hands before they enter. You should also wash your hands before and after interacting with the contractors. Depending on the type of repair work, you may want to sanitize surfaces after they leave as well. Disinfect the counters or mop the floors with sanitizing solution. But some contractors are utilizing shoe covers and wearing gloves when they go to people's houses, which also helps to reduce the spread of germs.