Prior to the pandemic, we may have taken social outings for granted. Going out to eat, seeing live music, enjoying a basketball game, or even hugging our friends were just typical weekend activities. After months of being on lockdown, we are all eager to get back to “normal.” With phased re-openings in most states, it is easy to want jump full-throttle back into the pre-pandemic life we knew. Not so fast! Just because we can doesn’t mean that we should. Numbers are still on the rise in a lot of places and caution is key.
According to the CDC, as of today (July 29, 2020), there are 4,339,997 cases of Coronavirus and 148, 866 deaths in the US. While we may have flattened the curve back in March, we have yet to find a solution to this global crisis. Perhaps an even bigger obstacle is that the lockdown has created an economic decline that will continue to dive deeper if we remain shuttered. As restaurants and businesses begin to reopen, it is important that we don’t lose sight of important safety precautions, such as social distancing and wearing face coverings. Read on for some tips on how to navigate these challenging times.
Social Distancing Tips for State Re-Openings
Practice social distancing when gathering in groups outside of your household.
After months of complete and total lockdown, it can be tempting to open the floodgates entirely when given the chance. As states begin to re-open and gathering with others is becoming less taboo, it is still important to practice appropriate social distancing measures. If a meeting, gathering, or event simply cannot succeed in a virtual setting (i.e. on Zoom or another teleconferencing platform), the CDC recommends taking it outside, where attendees can be six feet apart. Be sure to wear your face covering and practice proper hygiene. Wash your hands often and avoid any communal food stations or offerings (i.e. buffet line, snack table, etc.). If you are drinking alcohol, be sure it doesn’t cloud your judgement or allow you to slack on safety measures and precautions.
The early bird catches the… cleaner grocery store.
Now that states are re-opening and many people are beginning to return to work, some of our “normal” patterns and behaviors are resurfacing. For example, rush hour traffic is a thing again. (Who would’ve thought that rush hour – a semblance of “normalcy” – could be so missed?) Similarly, grocery stores are seeing crowds at peak times again.
Most people shop for food after work (so, after 5pm) or on weekends. Since it is important to maintain six feet of social distance from others, it is best to visit the store at non-peak times. Early weekday mornings are perfect. Most people are either working or sleeping. Plus, all of the cleaning and restocking happens overnight, so you will have a more hygienic experience with more food options. Win, win!
Take the stairs whenever possible.
If you live in an urban setting, elevators are simply a fact of life. In these strange times, where the germs of others have basically been categorized as a biohazard, the last place you should choose to be is inside of a tiny moving room with nothing other than strangers and buttons that everyone else touches. Of course, things happen and sometimes you have no choice, but when you do, we recommend opting for the stairs. Not only do you have better chances of maintaining proper social distance and avoiding dirty buttons and surfaces, but you can also get a cardio workout in. Anything that improves your respiratory and cardiovascular health is a huge plus with the virus that we are all up against.
Be socially distant, not socially isolated.
What is social distancing? It is maintaining six feet of space (or more) between yourself and anyone outside of your household. While this concept has been at the forefront of every news broadcast for the past five months, from a mental health standpoint, it is exceedingly important to remember what social distancing is not. For the sake of humanity, community, art, for the sake of so many important human things, putting physical space between bodies absolutely can not become synonymous with interrupting our connection to one another.
No matter what, make sure that your social distancing does not become social isolation. Meet up with friends outside. Join a sports league or fitness class that happens in a park. Go camping with your family or close friends. Just be sure to sleep in your own tent and be careful with sharing food and drinks. With a little bit of creativity, your social life can begin to revitalize a bit, especially during these warmer months. Safety does not have to happen in solitude.
Take care of the seniors in your life.
As states are reopening and life is looking a bit more like it used to, it is exceedingly important to protect our vulnerable population. Even though the rules are relaxing, we still do not have a solution to the problem that is COVID-19. Hospitals and healthcare centers may be more prepared than they were in early March from our efforts to flatten the curve, but the fact remains that there is still no vaccine and for many who are sick or elderly, no cure for the novel Coronavirus.
If you live with senior family members or frequently interact with them, your lifestyle and choices can directly impact their health and well-being. If you share a household, it is imperative to put their needs ahead of your desire to socialize. If you find that you can’t always practice social distancing or hygiene, avoid close contact with those who are vulnerable for 14 days after an incident of potential exposure.
It is also important to remember that prior to the outbreak of this pandemic, isolation and depression were already greatly affecting our senior population. Make sure to call and check in on them. Offer to help with grocery runs and errands. Bring them books, movies, and activities to keep them engaged and active.
Do your best to limit contact with others. If you must be out of your house or are back to work, wash your hands frequently. Wear a face covering. Stay six feet away from others whenever possible. If you believe you have been exposed to someone with symptoms, quarantine yourself from your loved ones for 14 days. Try your hardest to avoid unnecessary risks. If you have to be out and about, make smart choices.