Global HealthInfectious DiseaseWiRED Module

Protective Tips from a Pathologist on COVID-19

What You Need to Know


By Allison Kozicharow; Edited by Jessie Crowdy

Along with the entire global health community, WiRED International hopes that the coronavirus (COVID-19) will be contained quickly — but that may not happen. Herculean efforts in molecular and clinical virology are being carried out worldwide so as to comprehensively understand COVID-19. However, it is unlikely that vaccines or drugs will be available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available at this time. 

WiRED International offers the following list of guidelines, incorporating information from pathologist James Robb, M.D., F.C.A.P. (See sidebar for more on Dr. Robb.) For a complete look at COVID-19, please study WiRED’s updated Coronavirus Module.

To protect against COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 10 to 20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
  • NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow or elbow bump instead.
  • Buy latex or nitrile latex disposable gloves for use when going shopping, using the gasoline pump and all other outside activities that could bring you into contact with contaminated areas.
  • Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
  • Open doors with your closed fist or hip. Do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. This is especially important when using bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
  • Use disinfectant wipes at stores when available, and always wipe the handle and child seat of grocery carts.
  • Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other potentially contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if necessary. The clothing on your elbow can contain an infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more. 
  • Be mindful of your lungs. This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells, which means that it only infects your lungs. The way the virus infects you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or the droplets of an infected cough or sneeze.
  • Stock up now with:
    • Disposable surgical
      Source: NIAID
      masks and use them to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 90X/day without knowing it.) 
    • Hand sanitizers and latex/nitrile gloves (get the appropriate sizes for your family). The hand sanitizers must be greater than 60% alcohol-based to be effective.
    • Zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx.
  • Understand how it is spread. This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon. BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average, so everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious.
  • Talk to your children. One helpful tool is a kid’s comic about the virus, found here.

James Robb, M.D., F.C.A.P., was one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses (in the 1970s) and the first to demonstrate the number of genes the virus contained. Dr. Robb is a consulting pathologist to the National Cancer Institute and the Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research and is also the Leader of the Cancer Human Biobank Biospecimens Subgroup, Latin America Cancer Research Network Pathology Committee, and National Community Cancer Centers Biospecimens Pillar. He also serves on the Board of Governors of the College of American Pathologists. Dr. Robb’s research interests include molecular oncologic and neurotropic virology.

WiRED’s Coronavirus Training Module Designed for Groups

WiRED’s Coronavirus education module is designed for group presentations. It serves as a teaching tool in schools, community organizations, churches and other group settings. This accurate, evidence-based module takes about one hour to go through and aids group leaders in offering a training session that informs members about the coronavirus signs and symptoms, treatments and prevention. It is available for use online and for downloading to laptops, tablets and smartphones that can be used with a TV or projector.