By Tracey Dowdy
While even the most introverted among us are ready to start socializing again, we’re also apprehensive about what life will look like as the country starts to re-open. As it’s been from the beginning of the pandemic, foremost in our minds is how to stay safe, flatten the curve, and protect those around us who are most vulnerable.
It’s important to stay vigilant and not think that this is over. The threat of a second wave remains, but as restrictions lift and we begin to venture out, these precautions can protect you, those you love, and the strangers you’re near in the frozen food section stay safe and healthy.
Keep wearing your masks – even homemade ones. In a blog post, the American Lung Association addressed the issue of whether or not homemade face coverings were effective. “These types of masks are not intended to protect the wearer, but to protect against the unintended transmission — in case you are an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus.”
Don’t stand so close to me. Growing up, I remember a nun at a school dance rebuking us and telling us to “leave room for the Holy Spirit” if couples danced too closely. That’s not a bad idea in this season. Stay six feet apart while you’re shopping, walking the dog, waiting in line for carry-out, etc. If you have food delivery, pay and tip when you order, then when they drop off thank them through the door and wait for them to walk away before you open the door and take your food. Open the packaging, throw it away, wash your hands thoroughly, and then eat.
Move it along. Yes, we’re all desperate to be somewhere other than our sofa, but limited exposure to one another is still a key element of flattening the curve. If you need to be in a store, use a list to help you shop quickly and efficiently.
Go hands-free when you can. Instead of tapping out your pin with your fingers, use your knuckles. Flip switches with your elbow, use the automatic open accessibility option for those with mobility issues, pull doors open with a foot or the crook of your arm – get creative. You’re more likely to touch your face with a finger than your foot or your elbow – it’s a little change that goes a long way.
Do your best to touch only what you intend to purchase. Items like canned goods or boxes of cereal can easily be wiped down, but not so with items like fresh produce. Instead, wear gloves or use the plastic bags available in the produce selection to avoid cross-contamination.
Speaking of washing your hands, wash your hands. It’s recommended to wash for at least 20 seconds both before you go out to protect others and when you get home to protect yourself. If you’re unsure of how long 20 seconds lasts or bored with counting “One Mississippi, two Mississippis” every time, #washyourlyrics takes your favorite song and generates a handwashing infographic complete with lyrics and proper handwashing techniques.
Money money money money. Cash is notoriously bacteria-ridden, and at times like this, a potential carrier for COVID-19. Use your debit card (punch in that pin with a knuckle), PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo, Google Pay, Samsung Pay – you can even send or receive money through Facebook Messenger.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.