After nationwide stay-at-home orders, all 50 states have now begun to ease lockdown restrictions. The US is essentially reopening, despite warnings from public-health officials that doing so too soon could lead to the second wave of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, there has been a surge of new cases across the country, including in states that reopened the earliest. There are now almost four million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, at least 140,000 of which have resulted in death.
It’s important to note that the surge in cases should not only be attributed to increased testing capacity. The number of people being hospitalized is also on the rise, and public-health experts say that more than half of states in the US are still testing well below the recommended percentage set by researchers from Harvard Global Health Institute.
According to data from the New York Times from mid-July, the US has seen an average of 66,000 new cases per day. Worryingly, this number is more than double the daily average from mid-June.
Life after lockdown means embracing a new normal instead of completely returning to the way things were before the outbreak of COVID-19. Precautions still need to be taken in order to slow the spread of the virus and limit the number of new cases. As a nation, we need to remain vigilant until the outbreak is under control.
So, how do we stay safe from COVID-19 after lockdown? Being as knowledgable as possible is still the best way to stay safe, and there are a few other simple steps you can take to keep coronavirus at bay.
Wash Your Hands Regularly
This one sounds very simple, but it’s arguably the easiest and most important tip of them all. During the start of the pandemic, we were reminded constantly, on all media platforms, to wash our hands regularly. As the months have gone on, there has been a wavering focus on this vital step in ensuring protection from the virus. Touching our eyes or mouth after unknowingly touching a corona-infected surface can result in contracting the virus. By washing our hands with warm soapy water for up to 60 seconds, multiple times a day, we can protect ourselves and limit the spread of the virus.
Keep your Home Clean
This is another simple and effective step. Research has shown that, depending on the material, COVID-19 can survive on surfaces for anywhere between a couple of hours to multiple days. It can linger on metal and wood, both of which are very common materials within the home, for up to five days. While hand-washing is the best way to avoid surface transmission, it’s easy to become less militant about keeping our hands clean when we’re in our own space. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance to regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, faucets, cabinet handles, fridge doors, and remote controls within the home.
Be Aware of the Symptoms of the Virus
COVID-19 affects everyone in different ways, and a wide range of symptoms have been reported. Statistics show that many of those infected will only experience mild symptoms, and in some cases, no symptoms at all.
For symptomatic carriers, research has shown that symptoms are likely to appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. These are some of the things to look out for:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Call 911 if you or someone you know is experience intense trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, an inability to stay awake, or bluish lips.
Wear a Mask
Respiratory transmission is the main way in which the virus is spread. This is where large infectious droplets are expelled from the mouths and noses of infected people, with or without symptoms, and are then inhaled by the not-yet infected.
A cloth covering over the mouth and nose will limit the spread of these droplets, therefore protecting others from yourself, and vice versa. Wearing a mask in a conscientious decision that should be made by all US citizens at times when social distancing is not possible. Despite the resistance from some Americans, wearing a mask has been proven to limit the spread of the virus in several studies and in various countries around the globe.
Avoid Situations Where Social Distancing is not Possible
As all of our favorite places begin to reopen after months spent locked down at home, it can be tempting to get out there and experience everything. However, public-health experts have warned that the virus is very much not-yet under control. This means that we should remain wary, especially of large crowds. We should, therefore, limit how much time we spend around people where keeping a six-foot distance from others is not possible. For example, public transport should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Normalize Saying “no” to Social Gatherings
After a very unsettling start to 2020 with time spent in isolation away from friends and family, complete disruption to our normal routines, and worrying financial-uncertainty, COVID-19 has unsurprisingly taken its toll on many people’s mental health. Recent studies have shown an increase in Americans showing signs of clinical anxiety and depression, and as we all try to adapt to this new normal, it’s important that we still take care of our mental health. It’s okay to still feel nervous about being around people, and declining invites to social gatherings can be an important way of protecting both your mental and physical health.