While it may seem longer, most people have only been social distancing with additional shelter-in-place orders for only 30 days. Remember, the first ‘real’ shut down occurred with the NBA canceled their season on March 11th. As of today, April 12th, many across the country celebrated Easter Services remotely. Some states have closed school for the remainder of the academic year, and other states have extended orders through mid-May. Sometimes watching the daily news briefings can bring more questions than answers. Here are some answers to everyday questions that seem to be on everyone’s mind regarding COVID-19.
Are there steps that are needed when out grocery shopping? Aside from wearing a homemade mask when out at stores, these steps should be taken when out doing your shopping:
- Plan ahead and minimize the number of times and stores you need to visit each week (less is more).
- Try to avoid popular times (and see if there are hours specific for you – early senior hours, essential worker hours, etc.). If you are not feeling well, STAY HOME. Ask friends/family to deliver food to your doorstep or consider using an online delivery service.
- Wash your hands with sanitizer before (and after) your shopping trip and wear a mask.
- Keep items to a minimum that you bring in the store. Grab a credit/debit card, your keys, and write your list on paper to avoid touching your phone while in the store.
- Hopefully, the stores wipe down the cart when you enter, otherwise try and use a disposable wipe for the cart if available.
- Many stores are asking that reusable bags stay home. Depending on your order, it may be easier to load items directly into the car.
- Once home (or if having your groceries delivered) wash ALL fruits and vegetables. Wipe down each item as they are unpacked before putting them away.
- Wipe down all counters, store any bags for recycling, and don’t forget handwashing! Then change clothes (since you were out and about) before taking that well earned time to rest!
Take-out or Delivery of Meals
Supporting local businesses by ordering take-out is not only helpful for these small business owners but gives you a well deserved night off from cooking. Here are some safety tips when ordering out:
- Use curb side pick up or delivery if available
- If you are able to pay over the phone or online before pickup, do this to avoid handling cash or credit cards
- Once home, wipe down containers.
- Reheat foods for 1-2 minutes in the microwave if appropriate.
- Wash your hands before you enjoy your meal!
Mail and Package Deliveries
With more and more of us staying indoors, we are relying on USPS, FedEx, UPS, and Amazon to deliver our goods. While the virus can be detectable on surfaces such as cardboard or plastic hours or days later, that doesn’t always mean the virus is still transmittable. To play it safe, there are some safe tips to help reduce possible risks from packages.
- If able, leave packages outside for as long as possible.
- Bring packages inside and wipe all outer surfaces down.
- Open packages, also wiping down all items inside.
- Wash hands before touching items that you have now cleaned.
- Dispose of any packaging in outside trash/recycling containers.
- Wash hands once back indoors.
Going to Work
Many people are working from home (or unfortunately not working at all right now), yet there are many people that have to report to work each day. Aside from the healthcare professionals, police, and fire – there are essential workers in contact with many different people throughout their shift. How can they protect themselves?
- First – do not report to work if you have fever or symptoms that are concerning. Find out ahead of time who to report if any symptoms begin.
- Many employers are taking temperature at the start of shift, and employees may be instructed to take temperatures 2-3 times during the day when at home.
- Minimize jewelry; fewer issues washing hands and less to wipe down once home.
- If able, wear one pair of shoes to work and then change into work shoes. If you can leave “work” shoes at work, do so. Otherwise, wipe down shoes before entering your home.
- Once home, immediately remove all clothing and place directly in the wash (or in a bag to wash later). Wash hands, then change into clean clothes. Depending on direct people contact during the workday, you should consider changing before you enter the home (ie garage or laundry room).
- Wear clothes that can handle frequent washing.
Return to Normal?
Throughout history our world has been plagued by pandemics. Bubonic Plague in 1347. Smallpox in 1520. Spanish influenza in 1918. History tells us that we do prevail and return to life not focused on disease and transmission. But a return to normal? That all depends on your definition of normal.
Thankfully, our knowledge of disease transmission and testing are more sophisticated than they were in 1918. We still have room to improve.
Scientists & companies are working to develop ample testing kits to determine if signs and symptoms are COVID-19. This way if infected with COVID-19, these patients can self-isolate and prevent the spread to others.
They are also working on testing for antibodies. This would allow people to know if they have been exposed to COVID-19. If antibodies are present, the body has already fought it off & developed an immune response to the virus. The more people that have had COVID-19 and developed antibodies, the less likely they are to be able to transmit it to others. This is also referred to as herd immunity. As more people are exposed and recover from COVID-19, the more those who haven’t been exposed are protected.
Knowing who is ill with COVID-19 (via testing) and who has protection from COVID-19 (via antibodies) would be key information to allowing our society to return to a more relaxed state of business.
Lastly, scientists are working hard towards a vaccine to help protect from COVID-19. While this would offer the most protection, it is also could take the most time to trial, create, and distribute to the public.
Eventually, some things should return to normal. We should greet our family with open arms and be able to sit around the table and gather once again. We should be able to commute to work in droves and expect the trains, buses, and roads to be busy once again.
Hopefully, other “normal” routines won’t resume.
Instead of packing our schedules full, maybe we should continue to take those daily walks around the neighborhood. Take the time to wave to people in our community, not just because we are happy to see another human being.
Keep in touch more with family and friends as we do now. Enjoy that cup of coffee with a friend rather than rushing to the next appointment on the calendar.
Take the time to recognize the changes in our environment and appreciate the impact we can have on our environment on a daily basis.
Acknowledge what everyone has done during what some are referring to the “Great Pause”, and appreciate more the things we have been without during these months.
Hopefully answer to these questions have been helpful, but if you have other questions about this or COVID-19, reach out to our Facebook Group and contribute to the conversation. Stay well.