Even though coronavirus cases are slowing and stay-at-home orders are being lifted across the U.S., social (or physical) distancing practices are still important. Here’s why.
There’s evidence suggesting that COVID-19 cases have “peaked” in the United States, leading many to believe we’re through the worst part of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
But is it too soon to tell? Experts say, “yes.”
Are COVID-19 cases slowing?
As of right now, COVID-19 cases have declined — but mainly as a result of measures taken to “flatten the curve,” or slow the spread of the virus.
Measures such as business and school closures, stay-at-home orders and social distancing have all helped to lessen the impact of the virus. And additional measures, like contact tracing programs, are identifying those who may have had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 to help prevent even further spread.
“While it’s true that COVID-19 cases are slowing, there’s no way to be sure they will continue to decline once communities start to reopen and stay-at-home orders are relaxed,” says Dr. Alison Brodginski, director of infectious diseases in Geisinger’s northeast region. “Especially without an approved vaccine.”
In fact, many states have reported a rise in COVID-19 cases just days after reopening and lifting stay-at-home orders.
So how can we reopen our communities, while avoiding a surge in COVID-19 cases? Cautiously. This means continuing to practice measures to keep the virus from spreading — like social distancing.
Keep practicing social distancing
While you may be more than ready to see your extended family and friends and get back to normal, the pandemic is far from being over.
“We understand that it’s hard to be physically apart from your loved ones,” adds Dr. Brodginski. “But since this virus mainly spreads from person-to-person, measures must be taken to help keep ourselves and others safe.”
One of the best ways to reduce the spread of the virus is by limiting contact and continuing to practice social distancing. Here’s a refresher:
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others
- Always wear a face mask when in public
- Avoid gathering in groups (small or large)
- Limit time spent in crowded places, like grocery stores
And remember: As we continue to keep our physical distance from one another, we can still stay connected and support each other. Here are some ways to safely stay connected:
- Video chats
- Phone calls
- Text messaging
- Social media
- Video games
- Virtual game and movie nights
- Hiking and going for walks outdoors (while keeping your distance)
Staying connected can help us relieve some of the stress brought on by the pandemic. Need extra support? Find resources to support your mental health.
Getting back to normal — safely
As we all begin to resume some of our normal activities, like shopping at local businesses or scheduling in-person doctor appointments, it’s important to be mindful.
“COVID-19 is still in our communities,” says Dr. Brodginski. “So, we can’t forget to take preventive measures to avoid getting or spreading the virus.”
These preventive measures include:
- Keeping at least 6 feet of distance from others.
- Washing your hands, especially after being out in public. Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol works, too.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wearing a face mask when around others.
- Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently used surfaces in your home daily.
- Knowing the symptoms of COVID-19 and monitoring your health.
As this pandemic continues, your safety and well-being are our top priority. By continuing to follow preventive guidelines and measures, we can continue to slow the spread of the coronavirus, keeping ourselves and others safe.
Ready to get your health back on track? We’re here to help. Learn about the extra measures we’re taking to keep you safe.