7 Tips for Staying Safe as COVID-19 Cases Rise and Colder Weather Heightens the Risk

MikeDotta/Shutterstock.com

Protective measures are still essential.

As temperatures fall, people are spending more time indoors. That heightens the risk of the coronavirus spreading, but there are some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and everyone around you.

It’s easy to get tired of wearing masks and practicing social distancing. There has even been some talk from the White House about herd immunity – the idea that if enough people get infected, the virus won’t be able to spread.

But the U.S. isn’t anywhere close to herd immunity for SARS-CoV-2, estimated to be reached when about 60% to 70% of the population has been infected – likely more than 200 million people. Without a vaccine, hospitals would be overwhelmed by the illnesses and hundreds of thousands more people would die. We also don’t know how long immunity lasts.

Since we don’t have an approved vaccine in widespread use yet, protective measures are still essential. As a nursing school dean, I recommend taking these seven simple steps to protect yourself and your loved ones and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Avoid Crowds and Keep Some Distance

Avoid the 3 C’s – closed, crowded and close contact. This gets harder as the seasons change and more activities move indoors.

When people sing, shout or even just talk, they send tiny respiratory droplets into the air. If infected droplets get into your eyes, nose or mouth, you can get infected. Staying 6 feet away is a good rule of thumb, but it doesn’t protect you from everything. The tiniest of these droplets, known as aerosols, can linger in the air for hours.

The risks of contracting COVID-19 increase in inadequately ventilated spaces where people spend long periods together in close proximity. Outbreaks have been linked to restaurants, choir practices, fitness classes, nightclubs and other spots where people congregate. You can still find ways to exercise outside, though. Try going for a walk with a friend. Virtual events can also bring people together safely.

Wear a Face Mask

Face masks can reduce the virus’s spread by stopping droplets people breathe out and filtering some of what they breathe in. They are especially important in crowded and poorly ventilated areas.

To wear the mask correctly, start by cleaning your hands before you put it on, and make sure the mask fits securely over your nose, mouth and chin. When the mask doesn’t cover your nose, you’re giving the virus an easy route for infection.

If you wear a fabric mask, make sure it has two or more layers.

Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose and Mouth

Your hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can then transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can infect you.

Wash Your Hands

Simply washing your hands can reduce the spread of viruses. Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands for at least 20 seconds with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. This eliminates germs, including viruses.

Fall and winter also bring more colds. When you feel the need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately into a closed bin and wash your hands. By following good “respiratory hygiene,” you protect the people around you from viruses, including those that cause the common cold, flu and COVID-19.

Keep Surfaces Clean

Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home frequently, especially those people touch regularly, such as door handles, faucets and phone screens.

Recognize the Symptoms

Until the U.S. has an approved vaccine with reliable immunity and it’s being used, this pandemic remains a serious health threat. Being able to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 is important.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include, fever, dry cough and fatigue. Other symptoms that may affect some patients include loss of taste or smell, aches and pains, headache, sore throat, nasal congestion, red eyes, diarrhea or skin rash.

Some of these symptoms overlap with the common cold, but it’s best to err on the side of safety. If you feel sick or have a fever and difficulty breathing, call your doctor or hospital and seek help. If you experience less severe symptoms, self-isolate until you recover, even if the symptoms seem mild. Call your health care provider or see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Self-Checker for additional support. If you need to leave your house, wear a face mask to avoid infecting others.

Keep up to date on COVID-19 information and risks from local and national health authorities.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

During the stress and upheaval of the pandemic, don’t forget to take care of your mental health and well-being.

Connecting with friends, loved ones and your community via social media, phone, video or text can help reduce feelings of social isolation. Eating well, exercising daily and getting enough sleep are important for health and coping.

Be deliberate in making time to care for yourself by engaging in activities that bring you joy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to seek out resources including counseling or therapy if you are feeling stressed. Practice positive self-talk by saying phrases out loud such as “This is temporary” and “We can do this.”

The reality is that you do not want this virus. We don’t yet know what the long-term effects will be or whether immunity after an infection will last. Even young people who get it and recover can experience continuing cognitive effects, fatigue and potentially heart and lung damage. As you look ahead, remember these important safety tips and find socially distanced activities that will help you remain connected and safe.

Melissa Burdi is dean of Purdue Global School of Nursing at Purdue University.

The ConversationThis article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

NEXT STORY: Stop the IT Blame Game

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.