So, we’re all confused. It is, in fact, pretty easy to think that experts have been lying to us, because we’re not used to watching science actually happen in the messy way it happens.
And things are going to change again. Many of us are also feeling as if we have no control or agency. So I figured I would put together a roundup of how not to catch COVID-19 as we know it right now (July 14, 2020).
Masks and Face Shields
I know. Everyone is harping on face coverings. As time goes on, though, we see more and more evidence that face masks slow transmission.
Everyone who can wear a mask, should. If you can’t wear a mask, try a face shield, which are also demonstrated to be effective (if you’re one of those poor souls stuck working in a grocery store and can afford it, consider wearing both).
Different types of masks may work for you. Anything is better than nothing. N95 masks are the best, but are hard to get and should be reserved for people with higher risk of exposure. Please don’t use the valved masks (or cover the valve). Those are designed to protect you from allergens and do nothing to prevent onward transmission if you are infected and don’t know it.
A multi-layer, reusable cloth face mask works well. It should be washed every time it is worn. If you’re going to be out for a while, take two masks.
You should wear a mask any time you might interact or bump into people who are not in your household. Including outdoors. Outdoor transmission risk is lower, but it is not non-existent. Please wear masks on crowded sidewalks.
You should not wear a mask while swimming or playing in water, as wet masks can interfere with breathing. If you are engaged in heavy exercise and can stay away from others, you don’t need to wear a mask, or can wear a lighter mask. Overheating won’t help you.
Never share a mask, even if it’s reusable and you washed it. You wouldn’t share your underwear, right?
There is some indication that eye coverings can also reduce transmission, although the science isn’t settled.
What is known is that COVID-19 can get into your body through the eyes, and that on rare occasions it can cause conjunctivitis (pinkeye). If you normally wear contacts, wear glasses.
If you don’t wear glasses, it might be worth considering wearing sunglasses or safety glasses when you are going to be around people. Again, this isn’t settled, but it’s a small thing you can do that doesn’t cost much.
I know. We all want to go to our favorite restaurant again. Unfortunately, J.P. Morgan did a study that demonstrates a correlation between in-person restaurant spending and increased cases.
Dining in a restaurant is simply not something you should be doing right now. Support them through takeout or delivery instead. If you absolutely can’t stand it any longer, choose a restaurant with a patio and eat outside, where the risk is lower.
I know it sucks. I couldn’t take my husband out to dinner for his birthday. But it doesn’t seem that restaurants are safe right now.
Don’t. Just don’t. Even if bars are open where you are, avoid them like…you know the drill at this point.
It’s just not possible to social distance in a bar and the drunker you get, the more likely you are to forget to do it.
Stay local for now. I need to go to North Carolina, it’s important. However, it’s not urgent so I’m not going. I would have to quarantine when I got to North Carolina and then again when I got back.
I know, we want our summer vacation. But going to a local park that is generally not crowded is better than flying across the country right now.
If it Can Be Done Remotely, Do It Remotely
If you have the option to work from home, take it. If you want to hang out with friends, do it virtually.
Save trips outside the home for things which can’t be done in the home.
You absolutely should be going out to exercise. I wouldn’t get my hair cut right now, but if you need healthcare, get it. I’m only leaving to buy groceries (leaving delivery slots for higher risk people), ride, and do things which need a face to face person.
The only one this month was watch repair, and we took very solid precautions. I’m old. I can’t stand not having a watch.
If it Can Be Done Outdoors…
And the last note:
If it can be done outdoors, do it outdoors. Exercise outside rather than in a gym. If you want to meet up with friends, do it in somebody’s yard or in a park. (And keep it short to reduce bathroom use).
In April, a study of 318 COVID outbreaks found that only one started outdoors…and it barely counted, being two whole cases. This is also probably why there appears to be very little transmission associated with protest activity; protests have taken place outdoors and most people are wearing masks.
On the other hand, Trump’s Tulsa rally appears to have caused a significant outbreak. There was no need for that event to take place in an indoor stadium.
This doesn’t mean the risk outdoors is non-existent, but it is much lower.
We don’t have leadership right now. We need to make our own choices and we need to work together and make the right ones.
Don’t think of this as being sheep huddling in fear.
Think of it as a barn raising. As a community coming together to solve a problem.
And I won’t shut up about it: Wear that mask.