A yearly cold or two dogged me for years, often followed by sinus or ear infections. After I turned 50, all those infections resulted in a hearing loss in my left ear. Desperate to halt the yearly cold onslaught, I stopped touching public door handles with my bare hands, didn’t grab food on buffets if I was also shaking hands with people during meetings, and nearly ended up on the floor of a bus because I didn’t want to hold on to the handrails.

It worked, that and getting a yearly flu shot. I stopped catching a cold every year. Little did I know I was prepping for a pandemic world.

I find it sad lack of hygiene knowledge causes so much misery during cold and flu season. With the arrival of super contagious COVID-19, it’s resulting in an astronomical death count. I never thought about hygiene and illness until when I was about 25, I went to work with a sore throat and talked to all my coworkers about it.

I didn’t realize a sore throat signaled a cold or flu coming on. How could I know I was also spewing out the cold virus on everyone? Sure enough, my sore throat turned into a cold by the next day.

Within the next 7 days, EVERY coworker I spoke to came down with a cold. I even gave it to my boss, who missed a special event. He told me to never come to work if I was coming down with something ever again.

The standard cold virus, just like COVID-19, transmits through sneeze and cough droplets, close contact, and touching a contaminated surface then your face. Contamination of public surfaces is a given since, until recently, people fail to wash their hands often enough.

The best way to avoid catching COVID-19 is to stay away from people about 6 feet. This is not a problem when walking your dog in the neighborhood, but gets dicey in the grocery store. When shopping, wear a mask. I do. I also don’t linger around people in the store either.

If you’re back in the workplace, regard every paper that comes across your desk as contaminated. That means keeping your hands away from your face and washing your hands after touching paper or equipment handled by others.

This can help reduce your risk of getting the flu or a cold. It worked for me. Gloves aren’t an acceptable solution, because you need to remove them once you’ve touched a contaminated surface. They’re now contaminated.

I keep a glove in the car for pumping gas now. And I take the glove off as soon as I’m finished. It will be virus-free after a few days of sitting in the car.

COVID-19 is related to some cold viruses. My experience at the beginning of this article exhibits how infectious a common cold can be. COVID-19 symptoms don’t often include a sore throat, so people spew out the virus before they realize they’re sick.

When I first heard about COVID-19, I thought it sounded like a harsher version of the flu. As more information accumulated, I changed my opinion to take the virus more seriously. I think back to how many people I infected with a simple cold virus when my only symptom was a sore throat. COVID-19 symptoms are stealthier, so that’s why it’s essential to wear a mask and wash your hands. You can infect many people without knowing it.

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