It’s summer alright. The sun’s out and so are many of us. Some in masks, some still socially distanced. Others… not so much. Pandemic fatigue is setting in. It’s a long, hard slog trying to suppress this first wave (tsunami?) of the virus in the US and we’ve sometimes been our own worst enemies in the process.
We have sort of good news and bad news. Bad news first? US cases appear to be rising again. Plenty of states have reopened where people don’t seem to be doing much to safeguard themselves and others from getting sick. The sort of good news? There are plenty of things you can do yourself to try to stay safe and healthy even if others are being irresponsible.CROWDED PLACES
Stay out of crowded places. Still. For a while. If there’s one thing that’s understood about Covid-19 is that it’s easily spread from human to human in crowded, confined spaces via droplets expelled from the nose and mouth. Think of that Zumba class in South Korea or The Ruby Princess cruise ship debacle in Australia. Since Florida reopened, 16 friends contracted the virus from one night out at a bar together. After so much time alone or in limited social bubbles during lockdown, it’s only reasonable to want to find your way to the nearest outdoor restaurant patio for bottomless margaritas with your 15 closest friends. Try to resist. Go for a walk with one friend instead. Have a socially distanced picnic in a park with another family. Hang with your neighbors from the front porch. Set up lawn chairs 6 feet apart. Think small gatherings in open or outdoor venues.SOCIAL DISTANCING
As a general rule keep social distancing everywhere. Stores, the post office, farmers markets. Keep a gap between you and the next person of six feet or more, if possible. By this point, we should all be pretty good at it. No more embarrassment about stepping back if someone gets too close, or asking them to take a step back (if you feel safe that they won’t retaliate or get violent). Or just waving hello instead of shaking hands. You might have to put some forward thinking into how you structure your day. Get to the farmers market super early to avoid crowds? Walk instead of take the train a few stops? Plan your shopping trip before you go to the store so you can get in and out as quickly as possible? Of course, this presupposes you can do all these things. That you aren’t working the front lines at a grocery store bakery counter or nurse triage or delivering packages or any of the myriad essential jobs that we take for granted.PPE
If you’re in a non-socially distanced situation, then masks and possibly gloves will still go a long way to helping you and others stay healthy. Arriving for that long-overdue haircut? Wear a mask and try to gently persuade anyone you’ll be in close confines with to put one on if they don’t have one on already. It’s perfectly alright to leave if they won’t. Facebook posts of your friends’ kids at the barbershop will likely feature a masked-up barber and a cute toddler in a mask too. There are whole countries in Asia where mask wearing is near universal. It’s the law in Singapore. They’ve flattened the curve and have been able to re-open their economies earlier and more successfully without the huge increase in new cases. But but… what about that new “spike” in case in South Korea you saw in the news? New cases in the double digits FOR THE ENTIRE COUNTRY (of around 50 million people). That would be like if the US were reporting just a few hundred new cases a day for the entire country, not the 50,000+ that it currently is. Just. Wear. The. Mask. You might think it’s an infringement on your “freedom” but it’s your civic duty. Go without and it could be a literal death sentence for your elderly neighbor or that child with cancer and a suppressed immune system. Remember when we were, like, #inthistogether? Plus, you can support American brands that are making mask sets. Remember to wash them after each use and always keep one in your bag, car or coat.HAND HYGIENE
If you’re doing the right thing and wearing a mask, you’ll be certain to accidentally touch it -- and your face. That’s okay, if you keep up your hand hygiene. Touching your face or eating with unwashed hands is a really quick way to fall ill with all manner of things. Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently, especially when you get home from being out and about. While you’re out of the house, sanitize your hands after you touch anything, like the handle in the freezer aisle or playground equipment. Same goes for the kids too.HOME SANITIZING ROUTINE
As well as sanitizing your hands, have a sanitizing routine for when you return home. Spray down your keys, phone and anything else that came out with you. Become a no-shoes household if you aren’t already. After someone coughs or sneezes, whatever doesn’t adhere to a nearby surface falls to the ground and then sticks to the soles of your shoes, along with dog poop and whatever else you picked up outside. If you’re really serious about it, do like Mr. Rogers and keep a set of indoor clothes to change into when you get home, and throw your clothes in the wash on a quick cycle. Do the same with kids too, especially when they restart school.
Honestly, you got this. Keep doing what you were doing before. More than anything, this is a friendly reminder of that. It was working for a while. Make it keep working even as states and the economy begin to ease restrictions.
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