Remember when people were wearing double masks and using disposable gloves while grocery shopping? Then there were the popular online videos demonstrating how to disinfect every single item we brought into our home, including our mail and purchases. I admit, I’m happy to see that some of those days are gone, and we have specific and proven precautions on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC recently updated COVID-19 safety guidelines to reflect what we currently understand about the virus. Some have remained the same since March of last year, including mask-wearing and hand-washing. However, there have been some significant changes. Here’s what we need to know now about staying safe and protecting others from the virus.
Wear a mask, properly.
The CDC cannot be any more clear. “Masks help prevent you from getting or spreading the virus.” They note that we should wear a mask–over your mouth and nose–in public and in any situation when we are going to be near people who don’t live with us. Remember, we can spread the virus even if we don’t feel ill. They don’t recommend masks for children under age two. Masks also aren’t advised for a person “who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.” Lastly, and importantly, even with a mask on, we need to practice social distancing.
Stay away from crowd and unventilated spaces.
Whether you’re inside your home around someone who is infected, or you’re outside your home, say running errands, stay six feet apart. The CDC reminds us that someone who is asymptomatic can still spread the virus. If you need a visual, the CDC shares that six feet is about two arms’ length away from another person. They also note that we need to stay away from crowds, including in spaces like gyms, restaurants, and bars. Also, we need to avoid spaces that aren’t well-ventilated. If you must be inside, open windows and doors.
Wash your hands often.
Proper handwashing is important. The CDC shares that frequent handwashing and proper handwashing is one way to stop the spread of the virus. Use soap and water, washing for twenty seconds—at minimum. When you arrive home from being in a public space, wash your hands. If you blow your nose, sneeze, or cough, wash your hands. Other times you should be scrubbing is when prepping food, before eating, after using the bathroom, after touching your mask, and of course, after caring for someone who is ill. You might be wondering if hand sanitizer is an appropriate substitute for handwashing. The CDC says if soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer, but it must contain 60% alcohol at minimum.
Cover up those sneezes and coughs.
Your mama and your teachers told you, but in case you need a reminder, you should always, always, always cover your mouth and your nose when you cough or sneeze. The CDC continues by stating we should use a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Of course, toss used tissues. After a sneeze or cough, get to a sink and wash your hands with soap and water, again, for at least twenty seconds. If this isn’t possible, use approved hand sanitizer.
Kill the germs.
High-traffic surfaces need to be cleaned and disinfected daily. The CDC notes that we should give special attention to “tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.” The cleaning and disinfecting process is two steps. First, use a soap or detergent plus water on the surface. Second, use a disinfectant, one approved to kill the coronavirus, on the surface.
Keep an eye on your health.
Perhaps this should be the most obvious, but we will go ahead and remind you. Check in with yourself. The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, chills, cough, difficulty breathing, muscle aches, headache, (new) loss of taste or smell, vomiting, sore throat, diarrhea, nausea, runny nose, congestion, body aches, fatigue, and shortness of breath. (There can be additional symptoms). If you notice symptoms, get tested for COVID. If you suspect you have the virus, stay home. The CDC says most people have mild illness. You should rest, hydrate, and take OTC meds.
Stay home and take care.
The CDC further shares that when you’re at home, stay away from others, both people and pets. If you need to leave your confined space, wear a mask. Let your doctor know what’s up, and of course, if your symptoms become severe, seek medical attention. Severe symptoms the require emergency treatment include “trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face.” The CDC also says to follow all the other precautionary steps we already shared, including properly wearing a mask (when around others), distancing, washing your hands, covering up your coughs and sneezes, cleaning, and disinfecting.
We also need to remember that just because there are holidays approaching (such as St. Patrick’s Day and Easter), we shouldn’t take these as a pass to skimp on the guidelines. Scary Mommy recently shared that 70% of virus cases can be traced back to what is called Living Room Spread. Small gatherings can result in serious spread of the virus. Getting together with those who do not live with us, not wearing masks or distancing, is not a good idea. We need to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
All of us are sick and tired (pun intended) of this virus. However, we shouldn’t avoid taking precautions just because we don’t enjoy them or they kill our social vibes. The reality is that even though there’s a vaccine being distributed, this pandemic is not over. It’s up to each of us to do our part to stop the spread.
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.