Coronavirus Tips: How to Get Out and Stay Safe in a Covid-19 Pandemic

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Americans are fed up with staying indoors. Support for social distancing requirements is down in polls, and survey and cell phone data show that people are starting to leave their homes. Most states, ready or not, are about to reopen part of their economy.

In the past two months, the advice of the experts has been absolute: if possible, stay at home and avoid interacting with those with whom you do not live. In the new reality, with a vaccine likely still in months or years, some experts warn that a new approach is needed to keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic – a risk reduction approach.

It might be better for people to stay at home all the time, but since many can’t or won’t, giving them advice on how to reduce harm for themselves and others is worth it. better than emphasizing the ideal.

Julia Marcus, infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard, compared choosing to preach abstinence versus advice on safe sex during the worst days of the HIV / AIDS epidemic: completely avoiding sex would keep someone safe from HIV, but since most people will not do it For this, it is better to give them the tools to practice sex in the safest possible way.

“There has been a polarization between two supposed options of staying at home indefinitely … versus returning to business as usual,” Marcus told me. “The idea of ​​harm reduction gives us a way of thinking about risk as a continuum and thinking about the balance between these two options.”

The safest thing you can do in the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic is still the same as a few months ago: Stay home as much as possible to avoid catching or spreading the virus until we get an effective vaccine or treatment or until the pandemic ends. This is especially true for sick people who should do everything they can to avoid exposing others to the coronavirus.

People eat lunch in Stamford, Connecticut on May 20. The 50 states have now partially reopened their doors against coronavirus blockages.
Timothy A. Carly / AFP via Getty Images

But failures will occur. Some people were never able to stay at home in the first place; as states begin to reopen, many more will have to leave their homes to work. Others will do it simply because they are tired of being trapped at home, even if it is not recommended for their own health or for the public.

So I turned to several experts with a question: what can people do to minimize the damage to themselves and others if they decide to go out?

Some of the tips reflect the message we have heard for months: wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Wear a mask. Avoid shared spaces and crowded environments, and keep a physical distance – at least 6 feet – from people you don’t live with. If you are 65 or older or have chronic health conditions, you should take all of these tips more seriously.

Other tips were more original. For example, if you want to do something outside your home, it’s best to take advantage of the fresh air and do it outside rather than indoors when possible. If you want to meet certain friends or family, consider a pact with them in which you will both agree to minimize or eliminate contact with someone else, in order to reduce the overall exposure of everyone involved. .

The most important thing: avoid indoor spaces that bring you within 6 feet of people outside your home for long periods of time. “It’s about density. It’s about the length of contact, “explained Cyrus Shahpar, director of Resolve to Save Lives.

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