For some Americans, it’s been about 90 days since having to take to their homes to avoid contracting or spreading the novel coronavirus. Although the virus has not been eradicated in the U.S., or the world for that matter, the curve that we had talked about flattening back in March is finally leveling out in many states. For this reason, Governors across the country have announced that their states can reopen, however, many of them have to do so regionally, or in phases.
But, just because the country is reopening, doesn’t mean that the coronavirus has disappeared. Those who have been at risk from the virus over the past few months are still just as vulnerable. For this reason, it makes it difficult to know how to navigate the reopening, when the danger is still looming.
It’s worth noting that even if the federal and local government gives businesses and schools the green light to open, it is up to you to make decisions that feel right for yourself and your family. If you need help working through daily decisions about your health and the health of your family, here is what you should take into consideration.
Social Distancing Is Still Important
Towards the end of May, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published detailed guidelines for how states should approach the reopening of schools and businesses in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The report is 60-pages long and advocates for extensive access to widely-available testing, the continuation of healthy hygiene practices (like vigorous hand washing), and continuing to practice social distancing.
Social distancing is an essential part of reducing the spread of the virus. The CDC wants people to put as much distance between themselves and others because “some people without symptoms are able to spread the virus,” and it can also help protect the most vulnerable among us.
It’s hard to keep 6 feet of space between you and your neighbor in a restaurant or small clothing boutique, however. For this reason you might want to try to avoid crowded public areas, like beaches and pools, and also think twice before patronizing an indoor business, like a gym or salon, where it can be more challenging to keep a safe amount of distance between yourself and others.
Many People Are Asymptomatic Carriers of The Virus
Although it was estimated that roughly 25 percent of people have coronavirus without exhibiting any symptoms, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the leading expert on managing coronavirus in the United States, has said that as many as 50 percent of people might have coronavirus without knowing it because they are asymptomatic. And although they show no symptoms, they are still able to transmit the virus to others.
It’s for this reason that experts have recommended for anyone over the age of two to wear masks while out in public. Some people argue that they don’t want to wear a mask because they’re not scared of contracting the virus, but the mask is actually there to protect others should that person be unknowingly infected and able to spread it to others. Since people over the age of 65 are more immune compromised than other age groups, it is a good idea to wear a mask when you are out in public, even if others are not.
Keep Your Inner Circle Small
As businesses and public spaces begin to reopen, those who are creating the rules and regulations are allowing us to expand our circles. In some states, the recommendation still may be limiting group gatherings to no more than ten people, and in others, like New Jersey, the recommendation for group environments is as high as 25 people. Of course, the more people you come into contact with, the higher the risk. So even with a green light from your state or local officials, you might want to consider keeping your circle smaller than usual this summer.
According to an article in the Washington Post about the steps that all 50 states have taken towards reopening, many politicians and public health officials continue to have concerns about “increased activity [that] would put Americans at greater risk of a new surge of infections.” Unfortunately, this means that in addition to people crowding at the beach or summer tourist destination, places of worship might be places of greater risk during this time. While this might be hard for many people of faith to navigate, the Supreme Court recently ruled that houses of worship are not exempt from the same restrictions that have been put in place for businesses.
The Bottom Line: Proceed with Caution
With elderly populations being disproportionately affected by this virus with the CDC attributing 8 out of every 10 deaths from coronavirus in people over the age of 65. Although you may be feeling ready to re-enter the world, be sure to proceed with caution and be smart about the decisions that you are making. Every choice you make moving forward could have life or death consequences, both for you and others.