Networking with COVID 2019

More and more, we’ve been hearing concerns about COVID 2019, a.k.a. “the” coronavirus. And those of us networking have seen warm hugs and handshakes at events morph into elbow rubs followed by uncomfortable smiles.

So we reached out to Dr. Anastasia “Staci” Benson with Paradigm Family Health to get her thoughts on the matter and to answer a few questions.

Dr. Benson wants to stress that the answers provided can change at any point depending on the medical landscape of our community. She also notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has great information on its website:


Is it safe to attend networking events?

Dr. Benson:
At the moment, yes. You are more likely to get the flu from attending a networking event. While there, please do not touch your face or eyes. Limit shaking hands. Hand wash or use hand sanitizer before AND after the meeting and interspersed throughout the meeting if you are having frequent contact with others. If you are overly concerned with fomite transmission (meaning, virus leaving on a surface), you can use a Clorox wipe and wipe down your seat and table.

Something members can do is bring their own pens or have one person write. Minimize objects that everyone is touching and not thinking about transmission.


When should members stay home (either to avoid getting sick or to avoid making others sick)? Are there specific symptoms that should immediately say “stay home”?

Dr. Benson:
You should stay home if you’re sick. Period. Whether it’s the cold, strep throat, or the flu – stay home! Coming to a networking event when you’re sick only passes those germs to your fellow attendees. Not the best way to earn a new friend.

As for specific symptoms, it’s any. But if you have “flu-like” symptoms, definitely stay home. If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, you should also be self-quarantining yourself (for 14 days) and anyone else you would have exposed since your exposure, such as your family members. Quarantining is so important when talking about reducing the spread of a disease. Do your part to help your community and just stay home!


If somebody in my family has recently been ill, do I have to worry?

Dr. Benson:
You can discuss this case by case scenario with your doctor. If you have a family members with COVID-19, yes, you will also be quarantined as you have been exposed. Keeping your immune system functioning at its best is important. Meaning, do the stuff our parents taught us. Eat your fruits and vegetables, get 8hrs of sleep every night, and drink plenty of water. Did I mention HAND WASH??? And if you do have a chronic condition such as diabetes, make sure you are doing your part to control it as best as possible.


Is it okay to shake hands? Fist bump? Vulcan Salute?

Dr. Benson:
Minimizing contact is always ideal when worried about disease transmission. So elbow bump, “fake shake” or the vulcan salute are great options. I try to minimize hand contact as even though your dorsal side is less likely to have germs than your palmar side, it’s way more likely you touch the dorsal side than your elbow.


Is it advisable to buy masks to protect others around us if we’ve been ill recently?

Dr. Benson:
It is advisable you stay HOME if you’re ill and stay at least 6 feet away from others in your household if possible. This helps reduce transmission via respiratory droplets. Meaning, when you sneeze, those little bits of spit that fly across the room generally stay within 6 feet. Oh, and there’s some data to show the virus can spread via fecal contamination. So keep a clean toilet.

As for masks, yes when the ILL person is wearing one, it cuts down that 6 feet spread PLUS drastically decreases the number of droplets that are in the air. A mask does not prevent the general public from becoming ill. Even as a healthcare provider, most healthcare provider infections are from taking off their mask incorrectly and infecting themselves.


Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Dr. Benson:
Be nice to your neighbors. Don’t buy out everything in the stores. Only keep on hand what you would need if you were to be quarantined for 2-4wks (I’m rounding up in case there’re 2 rounds of quarantine for your household). Don’t run to the doctor when you’re sick. CALL the doctor before you leave the virus on all the door knobs between your bedroom and their office, the waiting room chairs, your car handle, etc etc.

Also, do you have an elderly neighbor or someone with chronic medical conditions that is going to limit their exposure to the public? Help by dropping off food or other supplies. Be a good neighbor.

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