We’re all fed up with it. Well, okay, I know some people who are happily curled up at home, quite glad not to be required to leave.
So, most of us are fed up with it. We’re asking when the lockdown will end. When we’ll be able to get a haircut, find out if our favorite restaurant survived, engage in our sports again.
What not everyone has realized is that even after the extreme social distancing trend, we won’t be going back to normal right away.
Life is going to be changed for the next few months, possibly even the next couple of years. So, what should we do next?
The next phase is the “containment” phase. We’re hearing a lot about testing, contact tracing, and the potentially scary idea of being quarantined again for fourteen days multiple times before this is over. (Higher levels of testing should reduce this risk).
But what can we as individuals do? It’s time to think about personal mitigation.
Is That Errand Necessary?
I know, you want to get out. But even after the official lockdown is lifted, it’s wise to still think about whether you need to. (Mental health is a need, folks).
Can you get the item delivered? Is takeout better than dine-in? Is that business trip actually necessary? Can you reschedule your vacation? (I’m not necessarily saying you have to, but think about it).
Remember that any time you go outside, you run the risk of being exposed and getting sick or having to be quarantined. Maybe your D&D group should still meet over Zoom for a while.
Also, if you can, try to do stuff at quiet times.
Stay Home When Sick
No matter what, if you have any symptoms associated with COVID-19, stay home, even if you are absolutely sure it isn’t COVID-19 (can you be?). The most common symptoms are:
- Dry cough
However, there’s an entire list of other symptoms that have shown up (in some cases possibly because of co-morbidity…it’s possible to have COVID and allergies or even worse, COVID and influenza…at the same time. They include:
- Temporary loss of smell and taste
- Aches and pains
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the chest
- Bluish lips, face, or extremities.
So, uh, yeah, any cold-like symptoms could be COVID. Stay home if you possibly can. If you must leave, wear a mask.
Wash Your Hands
Yeah, yeah, you’re tired of hearing it. But frequent hand washing is still the very best way to avoid getting sick. If your hands are getting chapped, use cooler water; hot water is not necessary, it’s the action of scrubbing and soap that deactivates the virus. (You also don’t need to use antibacterial soap if you can’t find any; antibacterial soap helps with things like E. coli but doesn’t have any extra action against viruses).
If possible and if you can find any take a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you anywhere you go for emergency hand cleaning.
Wear A Mask
They’re annoying, but you should wear a mask or other face covering any time you are going to be in a group of people. Ergo, if you’re going out for a walk somewhere quiet, you don’t need one. If you’re going shopping, if you have to take public transportation, wear a mask.
Take a paper bag or newspaper or the like with you. If you need to remove your mask, for example to eat, place it on the bag not directly on a surface somebody else has to clean.
Reusable cloth masks are fine for civilians, but if you’re caring for somebody with COVID-19, try to get hold of an N95 mask if you can. Masks don’t protect you, they protect everyone around you.
Continue to Socially Distance Where Possible
Try to stay that six feet apart. As time goes on you won’t have to worry as much, but when you can, do. If you’re getting on a subway train, choose the least crowded car and avoid bunching around the elevators (honestly, do that anyway, tourists, you annoy regular riders a lot when you don’t spread out).
If you’re taking a bus a short distance and can walk, do. (I realize a lot of people can’t, but really the American idea of walking distance could use some modification).
Avoid Nursing Homes and Hospitals
Don’t visit nursing homes or retirement homes. Don’t go to hospitals unless you need medical attention or are escorting somebody who is. I realize this may hurt if you have somebody you deeply care for is in long term care, but nursing and long term care homes have become hot spots for the virus.
We need to keep them isolated.
If you absolutely must visit, check your temperature before you leave, don’t go if you have an elevated temperature or any respiratory symptoms, wear a mask, and use hand sanitizer both when you enter the facility and then again when you leave (It IS possible to get a healthcare-acquired infection just from visiting. I wish it wasn’t).
Finally, please stay off those floating petri dishes we call cruise ships until things are much, much more back to normal.
The same goes for extremely crowded resorts with several hundred people. Disney comes to mind as a problem.
Instead, plan a vacation that will take you a bit off the beaten track, or take the time to check out local attractions you have never got around to. Take a road trip with people in your household. But wait until National Parks start to open again.
Right now is not the time to take any kind of vacation, but by the fall it may e a lot more feasible.
We aren’t going to go right back to normal and we all have a responsibility…to wash our hands, wear a mask, consider whether our trips outside the home are worth it and stay away from vulnerable people as much as possible.