There are two things Hudson Valley residents should be doing right now to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

People throughout the region have been bombarded with all sorts of information about the coronavirus. If you're having trouble separating fact from fiction, you're not alone. Hudson Valley residents who feel powerless against the likely spread of the disease want to do something to make them feel like they have some control over the situation. Unfortunately, many people wind up doing things that won't help at all, like stockpiling surgical masks.

Dr. Anil Vaidian from the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health says that Hudson Valley residents should be less concerned with sensational stories on the news and more focused on stopping the spread of the virus right now. In fact, there are two simple things everyone can do that will go a long way to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in the first place.

It may sound repetitive and boring, but handwashing is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself. Dr. Vaidian explains that the virus can be on many of the surfaces we come in contact with every day. Doorknobs, money, shopping carts and, of course, that handshake. Touching your face, eyes and nose with your contaminated hand is a sure-fire way to catch any virus. Washing your hands often with soapy water or using hand sanitizer is your best protection against getting the coronavirus in the first place.

The second thing you can do to help spread disease is to stay home from work if you feel ill. Again, this may sound like a no-brainer, but forcing yourself to come into work when you're not feeling well can spread sickness to everyone in your office. By touching doorknobs and even talking too close to others, you can unknowingly transmit whatever disease you have to your coworkers, who can then spread it to their families and friends.

The Dutchess County Department of Health is not only encouraging employees, but employers to be aware of this risk and make it easier for workers to use those sick days without feeling guilty.

As of now, the coronavirus is not an immediate threat, but as it begins to spread throughout the region the county may suggest further precautions like staying away from large gatherings of people. Until then, the most important thing everyone can do to protect themselves and others is to relax, practice good hygiene and follow simple common sense.

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