Summer is here: are you still safer at home?

WRITTEN BY: Julia Flaherty

States and regions across America are slowly reopening, which means social distancing guidelines have become a bit fuzzy. However, the same principles apply to ensure you are best protecting yourself and others. COVID-19 is still a threat and will remain so until we have a widespread vaccine.

It’s important to remember that whether or not you’d like to slowly emerge back into society is your choice. You can absolutely still stay at home if that makes you feel safest and you are able to. But as more businesses and workplaces reopen, you may not have that choice.

It is also completely understandable that, after months inside, you’re ready to begin weighing the risks of certain activities to maintain other physical, mental, and emotional health needs. Both mentalities are okay. But if you plan to re-emerge or have to, there are important guidelines to keep in mind.

Know your risks:

Public Gatherings: To remain cautious, keep your social circles small. Continue to limit your interactions to the people you live with, and be mindful of any emerging illnesses among your household members. If someone in your household does get sick, the CDC advises quarantining any ill family members in a specific room of your house (if they do not have to be monitored in a medical facility) to keep everyone safe from the spread.

Experts have outlined the risk factors of certain summer activities . While hosting an outdoor barbecue in your backyard with one other household is low to medium risk, going to a beach or pool among strangers is medium to high. Experts also say eating indoors at a restaurant is medium to high risk.

There are still many safety benefits of engaging with friends and family via virtual chats, ordering takeout instead of sitting down at venues (meanwhile supporting your local economy), and enjoying the great outdoors. Experts rate exercising outdoors and camping as low risk summer activities.

Hygiene: Keep your hands and face (eyes, nose, mouth) clean. The CDC continues to advise washing your hands after treating someone who is sick, eating, preparing food, using the bathroom, tending to a wound or sore, touching pet litter, food, or treats, touching the garbage, interacting with out-of-home surfaces, and so on. Wet your hands with clean running water each time you wash them, and lather your hands, covering all areas of them, for at least 20 seconds. Dry them well using a clean hand towel each time.

Hand sanitizer with at least a 60% alcohol volume is good to use in the interim if you do not have immediate access to soap and water, but the best method is still washing your hands, as hand sanitizer doesn’t eradicate all types of germs. Be mindful of this standard amid all of your summer activities to stay safe.

Regularly launder your clothes and shower. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your clothing, and then throw away your tissue or change your clothing. When cleaning, use an EPA-approved disinfecting product . Frequently clean high-touch surfaces.

Masks: Though many of us are growing eager to be close to friends and family again, suffering from lockdown burnout and fatigue, it’s still important to remember that masks do not replace the six feet apart social distancing rule. If you are slowly working on re-emerging, keep in mind that not everyone will practice mask safety in a compliant fashion, which puts you at risk.

Some do not know how to wear masks properly, while others still do not have access to compliant masks, and some may choose not to wear a mask at all. To ensure your safety, continue to wear a mask in public settings, such as the grocery store or your workplace if you are returning, and keep staying six feet apart. Experts have commented there are no known grocery store linked cases, indicating that grocery store shopping remains a low risk so long as you follow social distancing guidelines.

To learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and others, go to coronavirusdiabetes.org.

Yes, you are safer at home.

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I wash my hands 20 seconds plus when I get home. While away from home I wear a mask and use sanitizer after visiting a store. I am 75 years old and want to enjoy the time I have left more then sitting at home.

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Based on everything I’m reading from experts, we are in this for the next year or two. If would be nice if a vaccine comes along before then, but we have to be prepared for the possibility that it will be a year or two, or longer, before we have one.

While the safest option is to stay home, I think it’s reasonable that everyone develop their own levels of risk tolerance and assess situations for themselves. This will be different for each individual and also differ across regions based on local outbreaks and community spread.

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You are definitely safer at home, cases are going up due to re- openings etc. Stay home if you can, wear a mask, gloves and goggles when out and don’t attend any type of gatherings. These articles peope are writing about these things are bad advice. For instance if anyone at your gathering at home has covid and he/ she is contagious you are at risk. Just stay home.

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Here’s the remaining question - is the summer tempering it?
They say our case load has plateaued. But, with the large groups gathered for protests, I would have expected it to explode. I am cautiously optimistic about a seasonal effect.

This is why I think each person’s assessment about whether going out is safe will depend on where they live. Here, we’re in Phase 3 of a five-phase re-opening strategy. The province began re-opening, partially, in mid-May with businesses following strict safety procedures. So far, our cases continue to stay low and flat (an average of about ten new cases per day for the last couple of weeks). Most people here seem to get it and are taking everything seriously.

Here, people are not supposed to go to others’ homes. If people want to meet up, they’re supposed to do so outside where physical distancing can be maintained. That seems pretty safe, in my book. I think people should only be sharing articles that summarize information provided by health authorities, not just making up their own.

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I don’t know who wrote this one but saying you are safer at home is obviously not true. If someone has covid anywhere you are not safe.

I think Canada is a lot better Jen, better early response and far fewer cases. I would still be very cautious if you are high risk especially. That is good people are taking it seriously too, unlike here. That is very important. Out in open air is better but prolly not if you are close together, not masked or bad masks, talking loudly, singing etc.

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I am not sure what you are looking at for information but cases are going up in at least 20 states, particularly states that had bad responses and or in states reopening too soon etc. It is too early to tell how demonstrations will affect it, prolly just beginning now at the two week mark. They will cause a rise in cases too.

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Just to be clear, when I talk about going out being safe, I’m only referring to going out while abiding by all the precautions like physical distancing (even outdoors), not touching face, wearing a mask if indoors, washing hands frequently (or using hand sanitizer), not sharing food, avoiding unnecessary outings, avoiding large gatherings, and avoiding travel, and only in places and at times where community spread is low.

Going out without taking precautions is just not safe, regardless of where you are.

These guidelines are hard to follow, and they require constant vigilance. For example, treating a low while out may cause you to unintentionally break some of these guidelines (touching food without washing hands, touching face/mouth while treating) unless you consider these things prior to leaving. So, if going out, it’s important to think through everything you may have to do while out. I do think, if all those precautions are strictly followed, by both individuals and businesses, going out safely is possible when community spread is under control.

Even in places like our province, where community spread is low and under control, going out and not taking precautions (gathering in large groups, sharing food, not physical distancing) is dangerous.

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The thing is they are not going to be followed strictly by many here anyway and as you said people will mess up even if they are trying to. So imo only people who really need to go out should at this point. There is no way to safely go out in the midst of this without risk unless you have had covid and are protected by antibodies. Even then no one seems to know how long it will last.

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The bit about the low was not to imply that the guidelines are impossible to follow. Quite the opposite: it was to get people thinking about the things they may have to consider to stay safe if or when they do venture out in this new reality. I’ve been following many of these guidelines for years due to severe food allergies. So, when I treat lows, I pop the cap off the tube of glucose tablets and then tip the container so that a few tablets fall into my mouth. No touching the inside of the lid, the inside of the container, or the tablets. It’s also entirely possible to eat a granola bar or similar while only touching the outer package. People just need to think things through ahead of time and be careful.

Yes, I agree, one of the guidelines I gave in the list above (as given here by health authorities) is to “avoid unnecessary outings.” The idea behind the guidelines, though, is that they should keep you pretty safe even if you’re around people who don’t care or are actually spreading the virus. No one has control over what other people do, but we can do a lot to protect ourselves if we do venture out. I’ll be going out this afternoon to run two errands that need to be done in person, after more than three months solid without leaving my apartment building. The risk is not zero (but then, neither is it zero at home, since there are 100 other people living in my building), but I feel pretty safe with the strategies I’ll be using.

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I think @mohe0001 was referring to MN, where she lives, not the whole country. And the latest graph shows MN in pretty steep decline, only 8 new cases as of 6/10, though as you say the protests may yet have an effect.

My sister just moved to Florida, which looks like the’re doing a pretty lousy job of containing it:

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BTW it’s great to see you’re up and posting. Hope you’re finally starting to recover from it, especially the pain you were having.

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Oy vey😳 yep Florida is bad. sadly I think the demonstrations are going to have a bad effect. Imo a real lockdown, testing and strict monitoring of quarantine and contact tracing was what was needed at the start as well as masks etc for anyone who had to work or go out.

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Thanks😊 I am still in a lot pain unfortunately. My Mri showed another disc bulge pressing on the thecal, no signals in most t spine vertebrae and 3 hemangioma in the bulges and another area. The report said they are incidental but I am finding it hard to believe due to all the pain etc.

I had an antibody test finally at endo and I am waiting on the results so that maybe I can get some pt. My ribs are hurting again now too but I don’t know why.

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I must have missed the bit about the low. Sounds good. Just be careful Jen, I know you will be😊

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Well, I can sympathize there at least. Two weeks ago I fell walking my bike past the front entrance to our building and landed on my arm and side against the concrete steps. Apparently cracked a rib. Those things take for ever to heal, so every time I cough or laugh… argh. Worst is I can’t sleep on my left side. Can’t wait for it to get better but it just is going to take weeks. Nothing like what you’ve been going through of course.

Sorry you’re still in pain but I’m glad you’re still hanging in there with us!

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Wow that is terrible😿 please be sure to rest and take it easy. For a fractured rib or ribs you need to take painkillers if it is inhibiting breathing deeply because that can cause pneumonia. My father fell 2-3 years ago and fractured multiple ribs so they put him on pk. It took a few weeks for him to start to feel better as you said,

I am finding sleeping on my bakc is best for the ribs and my back.

Thanks😊 I hope there is an end in sight soon or at least a feeling better. I think pt will help me, it usually does.

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