Editor's note: Is it safe to get back to the life you knew? As services come back, we’re asking our doctors and other providers to help answer those questions in a series called Navigating COVID: Back to life. You’ll find those stories, and many others, here. Got a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As stay-at-home restrictions are being eased, more people will be heading to worship services, family gatherings and businesses that have been shut down for a few months. Dr. Daniel Jobe, a Novant Heallth internal medicine physician, offers advice on staying safe.
What are the top three precautions to take if you go to a church service?
- Wear a mask. A face covering helps reduce the risk of person-to person transmission.
- Avoid shaking hands, hugging, and any close contact with others.
- Avoid visiting places that don’t openly display efforts to protect your health. If there are too many people present, a lack of face coverings, or no evidence of frequent cleaning, don’t go inside.
What are the top precautions you need to take if you go to a family gathering, with relatives and friends who aren’t the ones you live with? (Social distancing is a given)
- Even when visiting family, take common-sense precautions. If you’re not sure it’s safe, consider postponing the gathering. Before the get-together, ask yourself these questions:
- Is anyone sick?
- Has anyone been exposed to COVID-19?
- Is there anyone in the family that might be especially hard-hit by the virus, due to advanced age or pre-existing chronic medical conditions?
- Can we keep the gathering small, and can we minimize the risk of person-to-person spread through spacing, handwashing, and other measures?
What should your expectations be for businesses and churches?
- Before visiting a business, place of worship or workplace, confirm that steps are being taken to protect your health. Is the facility being regularly cleaned and disinfected? Are measures in place to facilitate social distancing? Are employees and staff being screened for illness before they report to work?
What precautions should you take when visiting a business?
- Try to use “contactless” transactions. Pay for goods or services electronically using your phone, rather than by cash or card. Use deliveries that perhaps can be left at your doorstep while you remain inside.
- Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after touching objects that others may have used before you, such as keyboards, keypads, gas pumps, countertops, etc. Carry your own pen, so you don’t have to borrow one that may be contaminated. Avoid sharing food, beverages, or eating utensils.
Are there any extra steps I can take to protect myself and my family?
- Remember, a person can have COVID-19 and not know it. An infected person can spread the infection, even before he or she has symptoms. Protect yourself at all times.
- It is still smart to only go out for essential activities.
- Wash hands frequently and scrub thoroughly, using soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Remember that certain people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. People over 65, and those with chronic conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, cancer, or suppressed immune systems need to be especially careful.
- Stay attuned to your health. If you have a thermometer, check your temperature daily. If you develop a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or any other concerning symptoms, call you medical provider for advice.
“In general, keep in mind that the closer the contact, the greater the risk of getting the virus,” Jobe said. “This risk can be reduced by taking common-sense precautions, and staying up-to-date on the virus in your community.”