Doctor details coronavirus prevention steps as U.S. deaths increase to six

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The coronavirus is spreading at a rapid rate. At least six people are now dead in the United States because of it with nearly 100 more confirmed cases.

No cases have been reported in Tennessee, but there are preventative steps to take now.

Doctors say cleaning and disinfecting items you touch every day, like door knobs, desk phones and keyboards, is key to preventing the spread of coronavirus.

"You should always not take for granted that the surface is clean," said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, infectious disease specialist. "Always wash your hands after using common, community sorts of areas and devices, door knobs, public phones, that sort of thing in particular."

It’s not clear how long the virus can live on those surfaces, but doctors emphasize that’s not the main way the virus spreads. The biggest concern is still close contact with people who have it.

"This virus doesn’t live for long periods on non-human surfaces, so if you get a package from China, you’re fine," Dr. Threlkeld said.

Ultimately, practicing good hand hygiene is the biggest thing you can do to stop the transmission of coronavirus. If you don’t have soap and water readily available, hand sanitizer is the next best thing.

"An alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer, which has at least 60% alcohol component, is a good substitute if you can’t get soap and water easily," Dr. Threlkeld said.

These daily habits are not just effective in stopping the spread of coronavirus but also other viruses like the flu, which has already killed thousands this year in the U.S.

"By doing better hand hygiene and better prevention control techniques, we may save lives with all of this as well," Dr. Threlkeld said.

Doctors and the CDC both said one thing that isn’t effective is buying facemasks. They said it takes away from people who really need them.

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