As COVID-19 cases increase across the country, many worry that the 2020-21 winter seasons might see a sharp increase in hospitalizations and deaths related to the ongoing pandemic.
With that in mind, now is the time to review some common-sense COVID strategies that can lower your risks of contracting the virus while allowing you to continue day-to-day activities.
Hand Hygiene and Masks
Health experts around the planet agree that wearing a cloth facemask over your nose and mouth help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick. These coverings should be worn any time you leave your home, and especially if you are in an environment where you cannot maintain at least a six-foot distance from others.
Even if you do not feel sick, it is possible to carry COVID-19 to others if you are not currently feeling symptoms of the virus.
Additionally, regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water when returning home, using the bathroom, entering your workplace or before a meal can play an important role in minimizing the spread of COVID-19, as well as other preventable illnesses.
Both of the above strategies can be implemented by anyone without major changes to their daily routines and are designed to lower the number of people sick with COVID-19 at any given time – giving healthcare providers a chance to care for the ill without fear of hospitals being overwhelmed with surges of cases.
Prepare Your Home for Future COVID Spikes
New York was one of the first states to encounter large numbers of COVID-19 cases, and the lack of preparedness at the household level led to scenes of crowded grocery stores, empty shelves and a general sense of panic. Here are some simple ways to do your part to avoid an encore:
- Take stock of your household supplies like food, toiletries, cleaning products and everyday medicine.
- Determine how long these supplies will last you. If financially possible, aim for two to three weeks’ worth of supplies in each of these categories.
- Help slow the spread of the virus by choosing to shop at “off” hours when grocery stores and pharmacies are least busy. Consider shopping on weekdays, avoiding the early morning, after school and 5pm to 7pm rushes these businesses typically experience.
- Shop for the long haul. When possible, try to make a single grocery run to cover your needs for around two weeks, rather than planning weekly trips.
- Cleaning supplies were often in short supply during the early stages of the pandemic here in the US. Plan ahead and purchase a reasonable supply of these items early – remember that non-name brand cleaning products are frequently in better supply and shop accordingly.
- Plan for the possibility that you or a loved one might contract the virus. Have a plan for which room of your home the sick person will occupy.
- Be sure you have a supply of over-the-counter medicine to manage the flu-like symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, stuffy nose, difficulty breathing) now, rather than waiting to feel ill and infecting others on your way to the pharmacy.
By simply minimizing contact with others outside your household and limiting your time outside, you are already doing a significant amount to protect others in your community.
That said, there are always ways to lend a helping hand to your loved ones and neighbors. If you know a neighbor who lives alone, is older or is otherwise at heightened risk of COVID-19-related complications, you may consider exchanging phone numbers so you can offer a friendly check-in every few days, or possibly lend a hand with small errands around the neighborhood. This small gesture might not seem like much, but you could be making all the difference for someone at increased risk.
Managing the Holidays
Throughout 2020, public health officials have reported increases in COVID cases following major holidays, as well as incidents of entire families contracting the virus because an infected family member decided it was worth the risk to attend large functions while ill.
The winter holiday season will likely see similar spikes in new infections unless we adapt to the short-term realities of COVID-19. While everyone wants to spend time with friends and family members during these difficult times, seriously consider the possible consequences before travelling to any large gathering, family or otherwise.
Caring for Those At Risk
Those with compromised immune systems, cardiovascular disease and the elderly are all at heightened risk of COVID-19 complications leading to hospitalization or death. With this grim reality in mind, those with loved ones who fall into any of these categories should begin planning the care of their loved ones now, before New York experiences the full brunt of winter weather.
Some New Yorkers have turned to home health care agencies like SelectCare, who can offer single caregiver or small-caregiver teams to provide reliable in-home care to their loved ones.
By choosing a home health care agency like SelectCare, older adults can avoid higher-risk activities like grocery runs and other day-to-day errands, instead working with a single dedicated caregiver who is screened daily. Clients also enjoy the ongoing support of SelectCare’s Field Nurse Supervisors, who are on-call 24-hours a day to provide guidance and support when clients need it most.