When to resume daily activities after coronavirus

By Patricia Shannon, MD  |  7/1/2020

As COVID-19-related restrictions continue to be lifted, you may find yourself weighing the risks and benefits of doing certain activities. While there is no way to ensure zero risk of infection, you should consider the prevalence of the virus in your region as well as your individual risk. Ask yourself these questions: Am I in the high-risk category of older adults and people with underlying health conditions? Is someone I live with or have close contact with of high risk? In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some guidelines that may help you make wiser decisions. Here is some information to weigh before you head out and enjoy the fewer restrictions now in place in our area:

Dining out

If you decide to patronize a food establishment, dine outdoors. Your table should be spaced six feet away from other tables or areas where there are customers (e.g., the bar area).  Your hostess and wait staff should always be masked. You should see them wash their hands or change gloves after coming into contact with high-touch surfaces and garbage. Sanitize your hands before you eat and after you pay. Dine with people who you have quarantined with such as close family members.  Weigh the risk before inviting friends out to grab a bite with you. Interacting with more people, especially those who aren’t wearing masks or practicing social distancing, raises your risk.

Public restrooms

If nature calls and you must use a less-than-ideal public lavatory, wear your mask, avoid close contact with others and give yourself a thorough hand washing with soap for more than 60 seconds. If there is a line to use the toilet or sink, maintain six feet from the person ahead of you and kindly ask the same if a person violates your social space.  Use a paper towel, elbow or shoe to make your way out of the bathroom without touching anything.

Backyard BBQs

This is a very personal decision. Some things to consider are: How many people will attend? Fewer people spread out outdoors or in a large room with good ventilation (open windows and doors) is a better option. Prioritize outdoor activities, in intimate groups, where social distancing is maintained. Avoid greeting others with hugs, kisses and handshakes. Pick a seat six feet away from people who are not part of your immediate household, especially those in the high-risk category. Shorten the duration of the interaction, if you can.

Parks and playgrounds

We want you to get fresh air and vitamin D from the sun; however, large group gatherings are still risky situations. To be safe, avoid popular destinations where the park could be crowded. Don’t travel to parks far from home, especially in areas with higher COVID-19 cases. And, while many parks locally have re-opened, areas of parks where people cannot social distance could be risky. Consider avoiding busy hiking trails, playgrounds and sport courts. In addition, face masks are required for children older than 2, so if you do bring the family, take their masks, frequently sanitize their hands and talk to children about social distancing on playground equipment if you decide to let them play there.

If you or your loved one is at high risk for COVID-19 complications, the best way to reduce the risk of contracting the virus is to avoid contact with people who do not live in your household by staying home as much as possible. You should also follow all public health guidelines, including recommendations for social distancing, proper hand hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces and wearing a cloth face covering when going out in public.

No one should be in public if they aren’t feeling well.

For more tips, visit www.nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus or www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/