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We have all been social distancing and staying home as much as possible, but as communities across the country reopen, it's important to understand how to stay safe. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself when leaving home and interacting with others.
Wearing Cloth Face Masks: When and Why
The CDC advises wearing a cloth face covering (mask) to cover your nose and mouth when you must be in a public place where social distancing is a challenge, such as at the grocery store or pharmacy. Doing so can help prevent the spread of the virus.
We now know that a significant portion of people with coronavirus don’t have symptoms, which is called being asymptomatic. Even those who are presymptomatic — who eventually develop symptoms — can transmit the virus to others. Because you can still spread the virus, even if you don’t have symptoms, the CDC is recommending the use of cloth face coverings.
A face covering doesn’t have to be complicated — don’t worry if you can’t sew. The CDC offers instructions for making a simple face mask using a T-shirt or bandana and rubber bands or hair ties. There are numerous videos, patterns and instructions online, as well as many companies making and selling cloth face masks.
Understanding Asymptomatic Spread
According to the CDC, people may be sick with the virus for one to 14 days before developing symptoms such as fever, fatigue or a dry cough. The virus is spread primarily through respiratory droplets that are exhaled when you cough, sneeze, speak or even just breathe. While many people think of droplets as large, they can be very small — too small to see in the air.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the risk of catching coronavirus from someone with no symptoms at all is low. That said, the WHO emphasizes that many people with COVID-19 experience very mild symptoms, especially early in the disease (when they are also most contagious). So it’s possible to catch the virus from someone who simply has a mild cough and doesn’t feel sick, or from someone who feels under the weather but isn’t coughing.
While there is more research to be done to determine just how many infections have been spread by asymptomatic people, it’s important to err on the side of caution right now.
Social Distancing Is the Best Way to Protect Yourself and Others
The CDC emphasizes that wearing a face mask isn’t a substitute for social distancing. Masks do not guarantee that you won’t get sick.
Because COVID-19 can be spread by people early in the disease process, when they don’t yet realize they are ill, it’s critical to continue to practice social distancing, even if you feel fine. Social distancing, according to the CDC, means:
- Maintaining a 6ft distance when out in public — in parks, friends’ houses, restaurants or shops
- When in public, wearing a cloth face covering and remaining 6 feet apart from other people
- Avoiding taxis, ridesharing or public transportation, if possible
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Not touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Following any other guidance from your local authorities
The WHO also recommends that if you’re experiencing even mild symptoms, such as a headache, low-grade fever, runny nose or slight fatigue, you should self-isolate at home until you recover. If you must have someone bring you food and supplies, wear a mask to avoid infecting that person.
We're Prioritizing Safety for You
Universal mask use and social distancing are two of the enhanced safety protocols we've put in place to keep you and your loved ones safe when you're in our care. Face masks are required for every person in our facilities. We are also enforcing social distancing, including separate seating and floor markings to keep everyone six feet apart.
Find peace of mind knowing your care team is here for your whole-health needs. When you're ready, we're ready. For more information about what you and your family can do to stay healthy, visit our website.