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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Stepping Out? CDC Issues New Guidelines to Protect Yourself and Others

Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Author name: Lee Health

News current as of June 19

Every day more restaurants, nail salons, gyms, and other retail venues reopen their doors. We’re also starting to travel more and host gatherings such as cookouts.

More people, more time and more crowds might be essential for opening the economy, but it does come with more risks.

In fact, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention stresses: “The more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.”

That’s why the CDC issued new guidelines last week to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 as we venture into public spaces.

The new guidelines are intended to stem the spike in new cases associated with increased testing and relaxed social distancing policies.

Imagine everyone is smoking

The novel coronavirus is primarily spread by droplets from someone who is coughing, sneezing, or even talking within a few feet away, the CDC says.

“We launch droplets during our speech,” says Dr. Alex Daneshmand, Lee Health chief quality and patient safety officer. “These aerosols and droplets have been implicated in the person-to-person transmission of viruses. Virus-containing little droplets of fluid may hang in the air from a few minutes to a few hours.”

Essentially, the risk of catching coronavirus involves breathing in another person’s breath. That’s how the virus spreads, from respiratory droplets spreading between people in close quarters.

Think of the virus like smoke and like being in a room where people are smoking. The more smoke that is in the room, the greater chance the smoke will affect you.

It’s the same with the virus.

“The coronavirus continues to spread easily and sustainably between people,” Dr. Daneshmand says. “In general, the more closely a person interacts with others and the longer that interaction, the higher their risk of contracting COVID-19. This is how the virus spreads.”

Of course, the goal is to avoid inhaling as much smoke (virus) as possible when you find yourself in a public space that’s crowded with people, that has poor ventilation and social distancing is lacking.

Wear masks, maintain distance from others, limit your interactions

As our community and businesses reopen, we need to resume our daily activities as safely as possible, Dr. Daneshmand cautions.

“There’s no foolproof way to ensure zero risk of infection, so it’s important to understand potential risks and how to adopt different types of prevention measures to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” he says. “Be mindful when deciding to go to a restaurant or a public venue where other people will be present. Remember, being in a group with people who aren’t social distancing or wearing cloth face coverings increases your risk.”

Some highlights from the CDC's recommendations:

  • When venturing out, keep these items on hand: a cloth face covering, tissues and a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol, if possible.
  • Consider how many people you will be interacting with, how difficult it will be to remain 6 feet apart, how long you will be interacting, and if you or anyone in your group is at risk.
  • Consider curb-side pickup or grocery store delivery.
  • Use hand sanitizer after leaving the grocery store, gas station, restaurant or any public area, and thoroughly wash your hands when you get home.
  • Check a restaurant's website or social media to see if they have updated their safety protocols. Call and ask if staff members are wearing masks and gloves.
  • Sit outside at restaurants when possible.
  • Book services at nail and hair salons ahead of time and ask about safety measures.
  • Hosting an event? Consider having the event outside. If that's not possible, think about better ventilation (such as opening a window), maintaining social distancing by moving furniture, and keeping guests away who have been sick or might have been in contact with someone who has been sick in the past two weeks. 
  • Going to one of Southwest Florida's many beautiful parks? Consider a park close to home, don't go if you are sick, and call ahead to check on safety protocols for bathrooms and other facilities.

Remember: These tips may seem repetitive, but officials stress that they are more important now than ever as residents seek to balance getting out and enjoying their lives while still staying safe. 

You can view all the category updates and latest CDC recommendations for your circumstances here.

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