As Chicago and the rest of the world begins to reopen amidst the coronavirus pandemic, here are 5 simple steps about how to stay healthy when going out.
- Wear a mask. The simplest one of all: not only are you protecting yourself from catching the disease, but you’re also protecting others around you from contracting the disease if you are unknowingly sick. Infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong, MD says, “I think there’s enough evidence to say that the best benefit is for people who have COVID-19 to protect them from giving COVID-19 to other people, but you’re still going to get a benefit from wearing a mask if you don’t have COVID-19.” That’s because the mask blocks droplets from speaking, coughing, or sneezing to enter your mouth and nose to potentially infect you with the disease.
- Wash your hands. One of the easiest ways to stay healthy is by washing your hands regularly. This is so any germs on your hands do not enter your mouth or eyes, infect the food you’re going to eat, or infect any other person in your household. The Center for Disease Control website suggests washing your hands before eating or preparing food, after leaving a public place, after caring for someone who is sick, and more. If soap and water are not available, a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol will do the trick.
- Social distance. COVID-19 is spread through people gathering at closer than 6 feet for an extended period of time. According to the CDC website, “Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby.” If you go out, try to stay six feet away from others as much as possible. Symptoms can take as long as 14 days to start, so infected people may not even know they’re infected.
- Take care of your mental health! Between a pandemic, quarantine, a tanked economy, and the fear of getting sick is enough to take a toll on anyone’s mental health. Take care of your body, take breaks, avoid too much exposure to news, and seek help when needed. If you need to talk to a counselor or doctor, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-985-5990.
- Stay at home as much as possible. If you can, stay at home. The safest place to be is in your household, away from others who may be infected. Plan a virtual game night, exercise in your yard, or start a new home improvement project. You are helping the community AND yourself by staying home.