We all want to socialize. We all miss it. That’s what makes us human. But not at the expense or risk to our health and lives. As time goes by, we start to believe it’s no longer an issue or a problem for us. That is not true. Sadly, the longer we ignore the basic tenets that will protect us, the worse this pandemic will become. Arizona is now one of the hardest hit states in the country. That’s why it’s imperative we stop exposing each other and take the measures necessary to ensure everybody’s safety.
COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact for a prolonged period. People can become infected if an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air. People in the surrounding area can then be exposed to the droplets via inhalation into the lungs, and some evidence shows that the eyes may also be a point of vulnerability. Recent studies indicate that up to 40% of people can be asymptomatic and may be infecting people unknowingly. It is also possible for people to spread the virus before they know they are sick, that’s why physical distancing (6 feet or more) is so important, especially for those at higher risk for severe illness.
With the months passing by, many are left wondering how to approach socializing and travel in a safe manner, if at all. Generally speaking, if you will be around a group of people, follow these guidelines to minimize your exposure and risk of illness:
- Stay home if sick; don’t assume minor symptoms are no big deal as we know that the progression of the virus can be slow at first.
- Wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. But please wear them properly. They do not work if they rest below your nose or above your mouth.
- Use social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from others).
- Before you go, call and ask what extra prevention strategies they are using, like requiring people to wear masks, restriction on the number of people in a venue, etc. Consider staying home if proper precautions aren’t taken.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home. If possible, wash your hands at the location where you are socializing or bring along hand sanitizer to use periodically.
- Maintain awareness to avoid touching your face and avoiding coming into contact with high-traffic surfaces- when you do, wash your hands or use sanitizer afterwards.
Is it o.k. to visit with friends and families?
It might be safe for small groups of people to gather if the guidelines are maintained. Face masks, hand washing, and maintaining physical distance lessen the risk of exposure. Younger children have been shown to harbor 100 times that of adults and those 10 and older an equal amount of virus when they tested positive. So caution must be used with them as well.
Stay outdoors as much as possible, as air circulation isn’t as restricted as it is indoors (but still wear masks and keep a safe distance). If you must be indoors, open windows and doors to facilitate adequate air flow.
Is it safe to expand your social circle?
Physical contact with other people will always increase the risk of infection. The best answer, for now, is no. If individuals do decide to enter into a “bubble” with some friends or family, they should discuss and come to an agreement surrounding procedures that everybody will adhere to. Keep these interactions small. For everyone’s safety, consider quarantining for 14 days prior to expanding your circle (to reduce the risk of people being infected and not yet showing symptoms), or obtain testing. In many areas, tests are limited and may be subject to a waiting period as people at higher risk receive priority scheduling. Read more about the FDA’s decision to authorize testing for asymptomatic people here.
There’s only one protection against COVID 19- not getting exposed! Zoom, Facetime, through a window, all may not feel warm and fuzzy, but it keeps everyone safe. We have finally started to see the new infection rates in our state drop in half by using these simple, absolutely proven methods. WE have so much further to go. WE are still losing 1 precious soul every minute to this horrifying virus. Please use sound judgment to protect yourself and each other from getting infected. This has to stop.