Widespread COVID-19 quarantine may be over, but make no mistake: We are still in a pandemic. Cases are waning in some areas, but surging in others, and if we don’t keep doing our part to stop the spread and stay safe, we could end up back behind closed doors.
With all 50 states moving toward reopening businesses and getting back to normal — or at least establishing a new normal — it means that we should think differently about the precautions we take, especially for people with underlying or chronic health conditions who are more vulnerable to infection and more likely to develop severe disease if infected.
Follow these tips for staying healthy and warding off another shutdown:
- Maintain adequate social distancing. The virus spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. That’s why physical distancing is still important. The World Health Organization says stay 3 feet apart; the CDC says 6 feet. The point is, we need to avoid those potentially infectious little droplets that fly around when someone talks, coughs, or sneezes. If you’re out in public, avoid crowding others and don’t let anyone crowd you.
- Use a face covering. Wear a cloth mask or face cover anytime you are out in public, but not if you have difficulty breathing. Face coverings shouldn’t be used on children under age 2, either. If you can’t use a face covering, avoid public places, and take extra care with social distancing. Click here for a helpful face-covering guide.
- Wash your hands often. Use soap and water and wash for 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Use enough to cover your hands completely, then rub them together until dry. Keep some hand sanitizer with you wherever you go, and use it anytime you’ve been in public or after you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your face. This includes your eyes, nose, and mouth. Even if you’ve washed or sanitized your hands, it’s good to practice keeping your hands away from your face!
- Avoid touching others. Since COVID-19 is still spreading in most areas, it remains important to avoid physical contact. Skip the hugs and handshakes.
- Always cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue, or at least the inside of your elbow. You could have COVID-19 without knowing it; this will help you prevent infecting others. Wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
- Monitor your health, and if you feel sick, stay home, and call your clinician. Be on the lookout for symptoms like fever, cough, or shortness of breath, which could be signs of COVID-19. This is especially important if you’re planning to run out for essentials, or going anywhere it will be difficult to keep a 6-foot distance from others. If you develop symptoms, call your clinician and follow their instructions. Seek immediate care if you have difficulty breathing or another health emergency.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces. Tables, doorknobs, countertops, light switches, keyboards, phones, and kitchen and bathroom fixtures are touched often, so they should be disinfected often, too. The same goes for any other items or areas in your home or workplace that are touched often.
- Avoid those who you know have COVID-19, even in your own home. Limit contact and use face coverings and gloves when contact is necessary with anyone who has COVID-19. Set up a “sick room” or area to help contain the virus.
- Take action and hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Following these best practices can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but there are no guarantees. Make sure you have plenty of healthy and nonperishable food, hygiene items, child and baby care items, and pet-related items on hand, and always keep at least a 30-day supply of prescription medications and important over-the-counter medications available in case of a resurgence that leads to another shutdown. Better safe than sorry!