Living in the Time of COVID-19
Many of us would agree that these are trying times for Lenoir County, North Carolina, and the entire United States of America. COVID-19 has been greatly impacting our day-to-day lives for nearly all of 2020. Even a simple trip to the grocery store is fraught with fear and multiple decisions over what to do, where to go, and how to act. There is conflicting information thrown at us from multiple sources, which can make those decisions even more difficult. It’s possible to both live life and be careful, which is the balance many are seeking during this challenging time.
Humans are not designed to exist in isolation, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs directly addresses this. Belongingness and love needs are second only to physical and safety needs. Friendships, intimate relationships, family ties, and touch are all part of these needs and have been in short supply for many people during the pandemic.
So how can you do things like seeing friends and family, attend or host events, date, or even eat out safely during COVID? There are a couple of simple steps you can follow to minimize risk while spending time with loved ones and enjoying social activities:
Stay outdoors: anything outdoors is safer than indoors as it's easier to socially distance while outdoors. The experts have been consistent with this message. If you host an event, have it outdoors and allow plenty of spacing for guests. When you eat out at a restaurant, enjoy al fresco dining on the patio. Walk and run outside for exercise.
Wash your hands often: use soap and water and wash for 20+ seconds. If you don’t have soap and water, hand sanitizer is a good substitute. According to the FDA, it must have at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face.
Stay in smaller groups: It’s been stressed over and over that crowds are problematic in spreading COVID-19. The closer you are to others, the more likely you are to transmit or receive the virus. This specifically refers to close, extended contact like you’d have at an event or a large party. When you do socialize, stay with smaller groups of people and be aware of the distance and good hygiene practices.
Create a friend and family group that sticks together: Many of us are suffering from loneliness during the pandemic. Experts have suggested getting together with people who agree to spend time together in person but also agree to avoid others. This way you’re less likely to contract it even if you’re spending time with people in person. And if someone does become infected, it limits the spread.
Wear your mask: There is copious misinformation about masks out there. The CDC recommends using masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. They state that masks protect the wearer from spreading the virus to others. They’re most effective at reducing spread when worn in public places and when paired with social distancing, handwashing, and disinfecting surfaces.
Be extra careful if you are in a high-risk group: The CDC specifically mentions older adults and people with underlying medical conditions as being high risk. These groups should take extra precautions when socializing at all. If the typical person should wash hands every hour, an at-risk person should do it twice as much. Those people should always wear masks when socializing, and strictly observe social distancing of six feet or more. It is best for those who are classified as high risk to isolate.
While there is still a lot of justified concern about COVID and its spread, these helpful tips will allow you to experience and enjoy life while being safe and lessening the spread of disease. Because there is a true need for humans to have a connection, people will take risks to achieve that. While the best way to lessen the spread is to stay home as much as possible, these steps will help people socialize while minimizing risk by making responsible choices.