For the first time since March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a call with reporters on Friday to announce what many consider long overdue guidelines for Americans on “how to navigate daily life” as states continue to reopen. Published on the CDC’s website Friday, the guidelines are divided into two sections — “deciding to go out” and “considerations for events and gathering,” and both include meticulous details.
Jay C. Butler, the CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases and COVID-19 response incident manager underscored the importance of the new protocol on the call. “Every activity that involves interacting with others has some degree of risk and we want to provide with you the info and suggestions you need to make decisions about which activities may be able to resume and what level of risk you may have to accept,” Butler said. “Understanding these risks and how to adopt different prevention measures can help you protect yourselves and others against the virus.”
While Butler stated that the U.S. has been largely successful in flattening the curve, adding that coronavirus cases have “relatively plateaued,” multiple states and major cities are reporting spikes this week. To help distill what’s new about the guidelines — and how you can use them to stay as safe as possible — here’s what you need to know.
Before meeting up with friends, consider the number of people, amount of space and length of time you plan to engage.
An important “rule of thumb,” Butler said, is that the closer you interact with others, the longer the interaction lasts and the higher number of people involved all directly increase the risk of the coronavirus spreading. Other things to consider, the CDC notes, are whether those you’re meeting up with have been practicing social distancing themselves, or whether they’re at higher risk of serious infection. Meeting up with friends is possible — and something Butler says he has now done himself — but thinking through the risks beforehand is key.
Opt for the outdoors at restaurants when possible.
The CDC says that sticking to the outdoors when dining out, running errands or hanging with friends can significantly lessen the risk of COVID-19 spreading. “Indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces where it might be harder to keep people apart and there’s less ventilation,” one document reads. The organization recommends wearing face coverings when not eating or drinking, and remaining six feet apart even while outside. Butler added that, in terms of face coverings, the CDC officials “practice what we preach” and that he wears a face covering with a “pattern of grizzly bears and salmon” to show homage to his home state of Alaska.
Research a business or establishment ahead of time to lower risk.
One of the main things that the CDC suggests Americans do is carefully think through ways to limit risk before embarking on errands, meet-ups or other outings. “If you hit the gym, don't share items that can't be cleaned or sanitized after use, and refrain from high fives or elbow bumps which involve getting closer than six feet to others,” Butler told reporters. “If your local library is open, see if curbside pick up is available. If you want to gather with friends for a cookout, as much as possible use single-serve options and remind guests to wash their hands before and after eating.” In every scenario, Butler says to “wear face coverings when possible, practice hand hygiene and avoid sharing frequently touched items.”
Consider how quickly COVID-19 is spreading in your community before hosting gatherings.
While the CDC doesn’t explicitly endorse gatherings, it outlines ways that people can join together safely this summer. The organization does note, though, that the level of risk associated with gathering directly correlates with how many new cases are appearing in that region. The CDC recommends checking to see how many cases are appearing in your city or state before deciding whether it’s safe to attend a birthday party, wedding or even a concert. There are also recommendations for facilities that are opening, including mandating face coverings among staff, disinfecting areas frequently, posting clear messaging promoting protective measures such as hand-washing and staggering seating among guests.
Visit the CDC for more suggestions on travel, schools reopening, using public transit and more
The main advice from the CDC mostly remains the same: wearing a face covering, washing hands frequently and practicing social distancing are all fundamental. But for those in need of more specifics, the organization is outlining exactly what to consider before venturing out to do many things, from visiting a nail salon to traveling overnight. For more info, go to the CDC’s community page.
For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.
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