How to live in the "new normal"

June 09, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

When will it be safe to go back to life as we used to know it?

That, among other questions, remains unanswered. Experts say it could be years before we can resume our normal activities without masks and hand sanitizer at the ready, though they don’t know for sure.

In the meantime, how do we help prevent ourselves or our families from getting sick?

Fortunately, there are temporary steps we can take to keep ourselves healthy and still enjoy life.

The most important things to remember, regardless of activity, are that we should strive to maintain a 6-foot distance between ourselves and people we don’t live with, wear a mask when we can’t maintain that distance, continue being vigilant about hand washing, clean frequently-touched surfaces and use hand sanitizer. 

One warm weather tip: Be mindful of your mask. If you notice your mask (either surgical or cloth) is fully saturated or damp, put on a new mask. Dispose of your saturated surgical mask or launder your cloth mask.

Can I get a check-up or my annual health screening?

Yes. There is no reason to delay medical care out of fear of contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 — in fact, you shouldn’t delay care that can keep you healthy. Edward-Elmhurst Health is scheduling health screenings and our doctors are seeing their patients again — in person, via video appointment and by phone. There are a number of measures in place to ensure patients can visit their doctors’ offices safely and minimize their risk, including deep cleaning, staggered appointment times, entrance screenings and socially-distanced waiting areas. Read our Safety Commitment.

Can I have my friends over for a cookout?

It depends. If you can keep the group small, stay outside and maintain a 6-foot distance between yourself and your visitors, it would be safest. Making the cookout bring-your-own-silverware/paper plates/sides would be even safer. Sharing food increases the chance of transmission.

Can I go to the beach? What about a pool party?

Again, the issue is social distance. Experts say it’s unlikely that anyone will get sick from pool water or even lake or ocean water. The danger lies in getting too close to other people. So — is the beach packed with people on a hot day? Probably not a great idea to lay your towel down in that crowd. The pool is hopping and it’s tough to keep your distance from all the kiddos? Also not a safe place to be.

Should I visit my grandparents?

Because COVID-19 generally hits the senior population harder than other age brackets, it’s important to be careful visiting older relatives that you haven’t been living with. An outdoor visit is safest, along with maintaining a 6-foot distance, wearing masks and passing on hugs and kisses for now.

Is it OK to travel?

This depends on the mode of transportation you’re thinking about. Driving in your own car is safer than hopping on a crowded train or airplane (and trying to socially distance in an airport). Of course, a long car road trip also requires the inevitable fuel and bathroom stops, which increase your risk of illness.

Before you decide to travel, check whether the virus is spreading in the community you want to visit. If you decide to drive, make sure you pack enough masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Remember to wash your hands and avoid touching your face. Pack enough food so you don’t need to stop as often.

Air, bus and train travel bring their own sets of concerns. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers advice for travelers and answers frequently asked questions about travel.

Should I send my kids to day camp?

Many day camps and childcare facilities were given the green light to resume operation when states like Illinois moved into the current phase of their reopening plans. Before you decide to send your child to daycare or camp, find out what the organization running the program is doing to make things safe.

The CDC recommends camps keep small groups of kids together, the same groups every day, and that kids stay outside if possible, avoid sharing toys or food, and maintain 6 feet of distance between each other.

Kids should also wear a cloth face covering and be instructed to frequently wash their hands, avoid touching their faces, and use hand sanitizer.

The safest option: staying home. No, it’s not very fun. And this will not be a “normal” summer. But the COVID-19 pandemic won’t last forever. Taking these temporary precautions will help reduce the spread of the disease and protect you from getting sick.

If you feel ill, Edward-Elmhurst Health is offering screening options for COVID-19, including a symptom checker to advise you on what to do next and a COVID-19 Nurse Triage Line (331-221-5199) to see if you meet testing requirements. We are also offering Video Visits and E-Visits for COVID-19 symptoms.

For updates on our planning and response efforts as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19, please check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

The information in this article may change at any time due to the changing landscape of this pandemic. Read the latest on COVID-19.

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