Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease around the U.S. But whether the shops around you are open or closed, the risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 will not completely go away until we achieve herd immunity or access to a vaccine. There are currently more than 3.3 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, and over 1 million of those are in the U.S.
Fortunately, there are measures we can take when leaving the house and coming in contact with people outside the household. Since this new strain of coronavirus is highly contagious and can be passed along by those who appear asymptomatic, it is important to stay alert.
- Wear a face mask in public places – Six weeks ago, wearing a face mask when going out in public was purely voluntary. In many places, it still is, though the CDC now encourages it as a voluntary health measurein areas with high transmission rates, and in places where people can’t maintain social distancing of six feet. The recommendation applies to face masks and coverings you make at home or buy.
- Don’t make shopping trips a source of entertainment – The point of shelter in place and stay at home efforts is to keep you from transmitting the virus to others or acquiring it yourself. Yes, that can be boring, but the list of COVID-19 symptoms is long and frightening for people who have it, even if they do recover, which can take weeks.
- Use other body parts instead of finger tips – Any time you have to open a door, push a button, pull a lever or digitally sign for something, use a different body part instead. You can usually flip on a light switch or sink faucet with your elbow or wrist, and you can wrap the sleeve of your sweater or jacket around the handle of any doors you have to physically pull open. It’s easy enough to toss your clothing into the wash later rather than expose your skin now, especially if the chances you’ll use your hands to touch food items or your face is high.
- Distance, distance, distance – Social distancing can mean anything from hunkering down at home and refraining from seeing outside friends and family in person to keeping a boundary between you and others when you do go out. The practice of keeping six feet away from those outside your home group extends to waiting in line at the grocery store, going on walks (you can momentarily walk in the bike lane if you’re careful about looking out for street traffic) and picking up food to go.
- Engage in no-contact delivery – Keeping your distance means that you’ll need to get comfortable speaking through closed doors and hanging back rather than rushing forward to help the person delivering you packages, mail and food. For example, if you happen to be outside, it’s not rude to let the mail carrier walk all the way up to the front door and place the mail in the box rather than take it directly — it’s appropriately cautious for the times, and helps protect you and them by keeping your distance. Equally, if a food delivery person or neighbor drops something off, give a warm thank you through the closed door and wait for them to recede six feet before opening to door to thank them again and wave. They’ll appreciate your consideration and seriousness.
- Continue washing your hands – Along with social distancing, washing your hands thoroughly is one of your best defenses against acquiring coronavirus. Give your hands a thorough scrub each time you get back. 20 seconds is the going recommendation, which may seem like ages, but if you wash slowly, it’s easy to do.
- Stop handling cash – While it’s believed that the highest risk of acquiring coronavirus comes from person-to-person transmission, we do know that shared surfaces can harbor the virus. Play it safe by setting the cash aside for now and relying more on contactless payments such as Google or Apple Pay, Venmo, Paypal, or credit/debit cards.
We hope that these tips will help you stay safe and healthy as the country begins to reopen! You can also see more tips here: https://www.cnet.com/health/coronavirus-tips-16-practical-ways-to-help-stay-healthy-when-going-out-in-public/
By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®