Health & Wellness

4 Tips to Stay Safe from Covid-19 This Summer

People are starting to leave their homes again. Here’s how to do that as safely as possible.
4 Tips to Stay Safe from Covid-19 This Summer

Photo Credit: Manolines/Shutterstock.com

Laura Worcester

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Laura Worcester,   

Jul 17, 2020 • 4 min read

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Now that summer is in full swing and businesses are reopening from Covid-19, many of us are eager to get out of the house and reclaim a sense of normalcy. But public health experts warn that the pandemic is far from over—and that we must approach re-entry with caution. In the past few weeks, confirmed cases of Covid-19 have soared in the US South and Southwest and at least 25 states have paused or rolled back plans to reopen their economies.

Here, we break down the essential advice you need to know to stay healthy and safe this summer. 

1. Assess your own risk

The safest thing anyone can do is still the same as it was a few months ago: Stay home as much as possible to avoid catching or spreading the virus until there’s a vaccine (and of course, practice social distancing and keep washing your hands). That especially applies to people who are sick, who should do all they can to avoid exposing others to the coronavirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most recent list of underlying medical conditions that put someone at an increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19 includes:

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

  • Obesity (defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher)

  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • A weakened immune system from an organ transplant

The CDC says the following health conditions might put someone at an increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19:

  • Moderate to severe asthma

  • Cerebrovascular disease

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia

  • Liver disease

  • Pregnancy

  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)

  • Smoking

  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)

  • Type 1 diabetes

  • Being in an immunocompromised state from things like blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, or the use of corticosteroids

We're learning that Covid-19 can affect anyone, but if you have an underlying health condition, take extra precautions to reduce your risk of infection. Eating right, physical activity, adequate rest, and taking care of your mental health not only improves overall health and wellness, but can make you more resilient.

2. Wear a face covering in public settings

We know that masking is essential to fighting the pandemic. Researchers from the University of California Berkeley found that if 80 percent of the population wore masks or face coverings consistently, Covid-19 transmission rates would decline 12-fold, a solution much more sustainable than a full physical and economic lockdown. Some retailers like Walmart, Kroger, Costco, CVS, Target, and Starbucks will soon require customers to wear masks while shopping. As a rule of thumb: Wear a mask or face covering whenever you mingle with people—at the grocery store, picking up takeout, using public transportation, or meeting up with a friend.

Note: Do not use a face mask meant for a healthcare worker. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.

3. Meet outdoors and travel locally

This summer, if you're itching to get out into the world, the American Lung Association recommends exploring a new, local neighborhood rather than venturing far from your home. Before you go, make sure that the rate of Covid-19 in that community is low or falling. To find out whether your state is meeting the testing criteria, go to your state health department website, or use this chart from Johns Hopkins University. The website Covid Act Now allows you to see positive test rates by county.

What about meeting up with family and friends? “Maintaining strong social ties is beneficial for mental health, so gathering safely is encouraged,” said Albert Rizzo, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. “It's better to go for a socially distanced outdoor walk or picnic than to gather indoors.” If you're having people over to your home, keep the entertaining outside and the guest list small (10 people or less). You should stay six-feet apart and wear a face covering when not eating or drinking.

The same social distancing criteria apply when visiting pools and beaches. The CDC recommends maintaining a distance of six feet with others when swimming (there is no evidence that Covid-19 can spread through water activities). Avoid crowded pools, beaches, and play areas and wear a face covering when not in the water.

4. Clean, disinfect and repeat

Researchers have found that Covid-19 can live on surfaces such as cardboard for 24 hours, but up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel. So cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces is a step we should all take, even if we aren't leaving the house. Anytime items or people come in and out of your home, there is some possibility of exposure.

High-touch surfaces to clean and disinfect daily:

  • Doorknobs

  • Table surfaces

  • Hard dining chairs (seat, back, and arms)

  • Kitchen counters

  • Bathroom counters

  • Faucets and faucet knobs

  • Toilets (seat and handle)

  • Light switches

  • TV remote controls

  • Game controllers

  • Cell phones, tablets, and computers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of disinfectants for use against the virus that causes COVID-19. These two Lysol products are the first to have been tested directly against the virus and proved effective. 

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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, 1 (844) 265-6444, www.blinkhealth.com.

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