Jeff Werner writes: “Something that does impact me and indeed, the majority of you, is how our technology can be a vector for the spread of this disease.”

In the past couple of weeks, the news has been filled with the world’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Every doctor has their opinion on its progression and how you can stay safe. Every business is sending out emails to their “valued customers” telling them what the company is doing on the customers’ behalf. I’ve received dozens of these from a spectrum of businesses that is so vast, but which have so little impact on the virus response that I’ve had to laugh. Sorry Mr. Furniture retailer, and Mr. Online Clothing Business, but your virus response plans don’t really impact me personally. I even posted a tongue-in-cheek message on the IGTM Facebook page containing my send-up on these feel-good messages.


Something that does impact me and indeed, the majority of you, is how our technology can be a vector for the spread of this disease. I haven’t heard a whole lot of discussion on this so far, and I don’t want even a single one of you geeks out there to get sick just because you touched your technology, so I’m going to do my part to educate you in this issue.


The first thing I want you to consider is your phone. Almost everyone has one these days, and almost all of them operate by touch. We’re all being advised not to touch our face, because no matter how diligent you are about keeping your hands clean, you pick things up from everywhere on your fingers. You might be perfectly disciplined to not touch your face, but your phone is operated by touch. And what do you do after touching it? Yup, you put it right up to your face, near both your mouth and nose. Phones also tend to get passed around so everyone can see that cool online video, or the funny selfie you just took. For now, try to avoid sharing the device like that.


In the home, kids pass game controllers back and forth after holding them and putting their fingers all over them. The TV remote is touched by practically everybody in the house. If there is a shared computer in the house, the keyboard, mouse, and if so-equipped, the touch-screen are all targets for fingers, and evidence shows that the coronavirus can survive on hard surfaces such as these for many hours.


Even if you’re the only one touching your tech, all of these items can and should be periodically cleaned and sanitized to kill all the little nasties that are lurking. Disregard any advice you’ve heard in the past that you shouldn’t use disinfectant or detergent on your phone. You can clean any of the pieces of technology mentioned above by spraying a paper towel with disinfecting cleaner, and carefully wiping the item down. Don’t get it soaking wet, and certainly don’t put it under water. But don’t be afraid to carefully use cleaners on your tech. This includes such low-tech items as light switches, door knobs, keypads, cabinet and drawer pulls – basically any surface commonly touched, especially by multiple people.


While you’re at it, don’t forget shared surfaces outside of the home, including your car’s steering wheel, shift knob, door handles, armrests, radio controls, and so forth. Following these simple tips will help keep you and your family safe through this crisis. Be well, my fellow Geeks!


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