As stay-at-home restrictions begin to ease in Arizona and other states, people are starting to venture out of their homes and some are even returning to work. But that doesn’t mean that the virus has gone away — or that there is a vaccine or a cure.
How can you stay safe and healthy while slowly returning to some semblance of normal life? First and foremost, stay the course.
We at Banner Health cannot urge this strongly enough. As the largest deliverer of health care services in Arizona, Banner has seen firsthand the seriousness of COVID-19 and we are committed to help protect our communities and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
We strongly advise you to continue following these recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Continue social distancing
According to the CDC, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. COVID-19 spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Even a person without symptoms can spread the virus, so it’s important to continue practicing social distancing— stay six feet apart from other people and avoid crowded places and mass gatherings.
Wash your hands often
Yes, you need to continue washing your hands often, especially after you’ve been in a public place or after you’ve blown your nose, coughed or sneezed. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. And last, but not least, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover mouth and nose in public
Everyone should wear a cloth face cover—whether it’s a mask, bandana or homemade face covering—when out in public and it is difficult to maintain social distancing measures, including trips to the grocery store or pharmacy. As recommended by current CDC guidelines, there is no need for a surgical mask or N-95 respirator. Save these critical supplies for health care workers and first responders.
Ensure your mask fits properly
Your mask should cover your mouth and nose and fit snugly, but comfortably, against the side of your face. Although your mask should include multiple layers, it should allow for breathing without restriction. Just as important, when you return home, remove your mask with care, avoiding your eyes, nose and mouth, and wash your mask regularly.
Wear gloves when in public
While wearing gloves when out in public might make you feel safer, if they are not used perfectly, they could easily get you sick. Think of touching germs on a surface as being like touching red paint. If you’re wearing gloves and you touch red paint (the germs), then everything else you touch with those gloves will be contaminated with the red paint (germs), including your cell phone, car keys, eyes, nose or mouth.
The safest thing to do is to wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer before you touch your personal items or face.
Maintain healthy habits to boost immune system
As we venture out, it is important to keep our immune system healthy to help reduce the risk of illness. Keep up that exercise routine, get plenty of sleep, make sure to drink enough water and eat a healthy diet.
Stay home as much as possible
We’re all anxious to resume our normal lives and get back out into the world. But while there is still no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, the safest thing you can do is keep your distance from others by staying at home.
Protections work together
Each of these recommendations alone is only partially effective.
If we practice social distancing but do not wash our hands often, we still risk getting sick by picking up germs from the surfaces we touch and putting them into our bodies by touching our nose, eyes or mouth.
By practicing all these recommendations together, we can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to ourselves and each other. And by all of us working together, we can protect our communities and keep our loved ones safer and healthier.
Dr. Marjorie Bessel is chief clinical officer for Banner Health. Learn more at bannerhealth.com.