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Driving and COVID

Getting back into the real world of a reopened economy also means getting back into your car more frequently, sometimes with other people.

Think of a vehicle as a tiny living space. OK, you’re already paranoid. So start by maintaining, as best as possible within that space, the practices shared by so many Americans for weeks: Social distancing, hand-washing and disinfecting surrounding surfaces.

Inviting someone into your vehicle beyond your immediate, self-isolated family, especially the elderly, requires additional vigilance. Most vehicles can’t accommodate the 6-foot social distancing. But someone in the driver’s seat and a passenger in the far-rear seat of your mammoth SUV might come the closest. Both people, naturally, should be wearing a cloth face mask.

Keep the air circulating, whether by opening the windows or using your vehicle’s air conditioning system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has not yet confirmed if an active COVID-19 virus could contaminate an HVAC system and spread the disease to passengers, recommends you avoid using the ventilation system’s recirculated-air setting. Instead, draw in fresh outside air through the vents.

If you suspect your vehicle has been contaminated with the virus, allow the vehicle to sit in the sun for 24 hours, unused. Then set the heater to maximum temperature (not in recirculation mode) and run it for five minutes at the maximum blower setting with the doors open and windows down. Follow that by disinfecting the car’s interior.

Here’s some guidance from the CDC and other authorities for rideshare and driver-for-hire services that still apply to private-car use.

Use a household disinfectant or a cleaning solution with at least 70 percent alcohol on these frequently touched hard surfaces:

Steering wheel.
Window and other control buttons.
Gear shift.
Wiper and turn-signal mechanisms.
Seat-adjustment levers.
For vehicles with touchscreens, avoid using any cleaner containing ammonia. It could erode fingerprint and glare protection.

Wipe down fabric upholstery with soapy water. Reduce the risk of possible mold growth by not oversaturating the material and allowing to air dry by leaving the vehicle in the sun with the windows down.

Other area to disinfect regularly:

Door handles, interior and exterior.
Cup holders.
Seat belts and seat-belt buckles.
Air vents.
Always clean your hands before driving. Ask your passengers to do the same. And remember to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, prime entry points for the virus.

Keep hand sanitizer in the vehicle and bring disinfecting wipes if you plan on getting gas, using an ATM, ordering fast-food using a touchscreen or touching any other surface.

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Thanks to Health News Hub for the info!

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