Right now, several states in the Northeastern US have opened up after a difficult few months of quarantine for COVID-19. Stores, restaurants, and bars are once again ready for patrons. However, we must be extra vigilant at this time if we resume our activities. While it may be legal for these places to be open, the settings may still be ripe for COVID-19 transmission. The local governments do not have the ability to check on every establishment each day to make sure mask wearing and physical distancing is taking place. This will certainly lead to an uptick in cases. Sadly, it is inevitable.
Here are some pointers so you can protect yourself:
- Trust your gut feeling. If it feels unsafe, it probably is. Are people not wearing masks? Are people crowded together in large groups (unlikely to be in their “pod” or home)?
- Do not give in to peer pressure. As with all things in life, we shouldn’t always trust the opinions of those around us. Many people have reasons for misguided beliefs, but don’t let those people ruin your health with one bad decision. If you feel uncomfortable in a certain situation, leave or make an excuse. Is it worth possibly dying or hospitalized after being in a crowded bar for two hours? Probably not.
- If you are around elderly people or people with chronic diseases, you need to be extra careful with your exposure. Many studies have shown that COVID-19 can spread asymptomatically, meaning that someone with no fever or cough can transmit the disease to others. If you accidentally or deliberately put yourself in a risky situation, you should avoid being around vulnerable people for at least 14 days.
- Always err on the side of safety. Wearing a mask should be second nature right now. Keep some sort of face protection nearby at all times. I tie a bandana around my neck often put it over my mask as a second layer, but it could be helpful as a replacement if I happened to lose my mask or the strap on the mask breaks. If someone is walking towards you during a conversation, take a step back and let them know you don’t feel comfortable. At this point, I think we all understand everyone has different comfort levels and we must respect that people may have underlying health issues which could put them at serious risk of complications with COVID-19. We must assume everyone we see has the potential to spread the virus.
- Ask yourself, “Why now? What else?” Do you have to put yourself at risk? Is there some other way to make the activity safer? Is it worth it? Could you possible order the item online rather than walking through a store for an hour? Is it a need or a want?
- Trust your gut feeling! I mention this again, because it is so important right now. Trust your intuition, and be safe!
Think about all the time you spent quarantining this year. If you engage in risky activities for even just a few moments and get sick, you have essentially negated all of those weeks stuck in your home!