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A GUIDE TO ENJOYING SUMMER ‘SAFELY’

As we begin to slowly open and some restrictions start to lift, it is hard to know what ‘safe’ vs ‘unsafe’ encounters look likeWhile prevalence continues to play an important role in our local communities, it’s hard to quantify what that translates to as most want to do the small things like hug family and friends, get our haircut, have a pool party, visit the nail salonor gather at local bars and restaurants. 

We know the urge to get out and enjoy summer is real. That’s why social distancing is more important than ever to keeping you and the ones around you safe.  

What is considered ‘safe’? 

  • Backyard gatherings. With a small group, getting together outside in a spacious area isn’t too risky depending on who you invite and their status or symptoms. To lower your risk, avoid sharing food, drinks, plates or utensils.
  • Spending the day at the beach or pool. Watch how close you are to others. As long as you can stay 6 feet apart and gather in a small group, this could be a pretty safe activity.
  • Hugging family and friends. You have to use your best judgment—there isn’t a one-size-fits-allBefore you give a hug, know how the other person has been following the social distancing rules. To be extra cautious, avoid the long, lingering hug and the kiss on the cheek or lips.
  • Using a public restroom. This could be a pretty scary thought, but most restrooms were designed to avoid the spread of germs. Be sure to avoid waiting in a line to use the bathroom and wash your hands after. 
  • Going to a vacation house with another family. Again, you will need to use your best judgement here. If both families have been quarantining and limiting their exposure to others, your risk of getting infected is limited. Don’t be afraid to ask. 

What is considered ‘unsafe’?  

  • Eating indoors at a restaurant. Because people tend to linger more, you’re in the restaurant longer and the risk of being exposed to the virus is greater. Especially since you don’t know who you’re dinning next to you and their symptoms. If you do go to a restaurant, look for outdoor seating. 
  • Attending a place of worship indoors. Worship services tend to bring together those from different households, which could increase the risk of people becoming infected in short amount of time. 
  • Getting a haircut or nails doneThese are some of the highest risk scenarios as there’s no way to keep 6 feet from the person performing the service and breathing on one another is extended for several minutes. 
  • Gathering at a bar or nightclub. When most drink, they become less likely to follow the social distancing rules. While there, you are then exposed to crowds, singing, sweating and the risk of sharing drinkware with others who may be infected. 

The key to enjoying your summer while minimizing your risk of getting sick is remembering to social distance, wear a face covering, and wash your handsWhen possible, always opt for outdoor activities over indoor ones. We hope that knowing what the risks are for specific activities helps you to make the right individual decisions you need to in order to have peace of mind as well as stay safe summer. 

ADDRESSING MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Q: Can people of any race or ethnicity get sick from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?
Yes. COVID-19 cases have now been recorded in over 170 countries1,2.

Q: Are older adults and those with underlying medical conditions or a suppressed immune system the only ones at risk of contracting COVID-19?

No. Older adults and individuals who are immunocompromised and/or have underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19 infection, however, it is possible for people of any age group or health status to become infected with the virus. Although it is far rarer, there have been confirmed reports of healthy teenagers and young adults who have died from COVID-19, and several cases of infants who have been infected3,4. So the danger is that a young person can become infected and either have no symptoms or only mild symptoms and then pass the virus on to someone in a higher risk category. This is why it is so vital that everyone practice social distancing and proper hand hygiene, not only those who are at high risk or who have symptoms.

Q: Is there a proven cure for COVID-19?
No. There are currently no medications that have been proven effective against COVID-19. There is currently a clinical trial in progress and several others that are planning to begin enrolling soon to evaluate whether an antimalarial medication called hydroxychloroquine may be effective in treating the virus5.

Q: Are there any home remedies to prevent or treat COVID-19 infection?
No. There are currently no proven home remedies to prevent or treat COVID-19. Although vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc, among other nutritional supplements, may help to support your immune system, there is no evidence showing that they protect you against COVID-19. Chemical cleaning products are effective at killing the virus on surfaces. However, ingesting or applying cleaning products to the body does not kill the virus and is extremely dangerous/deadly6.

 

Q: If someone has been infected with COVID-19 and fully recovers, are they immune to the disease or is it possible to be re-infected?
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, although we don’t know with 100% certainty that you will be immune to COVID-19 after recovering from the infection, it is highly likely this is the case, given that this is how all other viruses which have been studied are known to work7.

Q: Should I wear a mask and gloves in public and disinfect any packages/mail I receive or items I buy from the store?
The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to wash your hands (for 20 seconds) frequently, avoid shaking hands with others, maintain a 6-foot distance from all others, and avoid touching your face. Medical masks cannot prevent COVID-19 when used alone or improperly8. They must be combined with proper hand hygiene. Please check out the video (cited below) for further details. Regarding packages and mail, although the virus may be able to survive for a short period of time on these surfaces, that is not the main method of transmission7. The most important way to prevent infection is to continue practicing proper hand hygiene and social distancing.

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/share-facts.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fsymptoms-testing%2Fshare-facts.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/world-map.html
  3. https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Cases.aspx
  4. https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-03-28-20-intl-hnk/h_19fb469fd4ebf93894c1d5c248dfcf0c
  5. https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/covid-19-clinical-trial-launches
  6. https://nbcpalmsprings.com/2020/03/12/coronavirus-myths-and-misinformation-debunked/
  7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A3jiM2FNR8
  8. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

 

TIPS ON PREVENTING COVID-19

There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent or treat Coronavirus (COVID-19.) While there are some trials underway, the best way to prevent illness and the spread of the virus is to avoid being exposed to the virus. First, it is important to understand how the virus spreads. It is spread mainly from person-to-person contact meaning, close contact with an infected person (about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs. The virus can also land and live on surfaces, which can be passed on by if you touch your face after touching the infected surface. Below are guidelines recommended by the CDC on the best ways to prevent the virus.

Wash Your Hands Often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% of alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

Avoid Close Contact

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVD-19 is spreading in your community (at least 6 feet)

Stay Home if You’re Sick

  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care and please call your healthcare provider first before going to the office

Cover Coughs and Sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and throw the used tissue in the trash
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after

Clean and Disinfect

  • Clean and disinfected frequently touch surfaces daily, like tables, doorknobs, light switches, faucets, toilets, phones, and keyboards

DIY Hand Sanitizer

Can’t find any hand sanitizer at the store? Here is a simple DIY hand sanitizer with only 2 ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Aloe Vera gel

Ratios:

  • For 99-91% Isopropyl, use 2 parts Isopropyl to 1 part Aloe Vera
  • For 70% Isopropyl, use 8.5 parts to 1.5 parts Aloe Vera

MENTAL HEALTH & COVID-19

As news about the COVID-19 outbreak continues to dominate almost every aspect of our lives, it is essential that we pay attention to our mental health just as we do our physical health.

There are many reasons that people may be feeling stressed and anxious whether it be due to loss of a loved one, fear of getting sick, loss of income/fear of loss of job, social distance and self-isolation, or a combination of all of these. The COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful situation, especially for those who are already living with a behavioral health issues. Below are some tips to help cope with stress and anxiety during these challenging times.

Limit news consumption and social media intake

24-hour news and constant social media updates can induce stress, anxiety, and feelings of worry. Try to limit yourself to 10 minutes a day to stay informed, and try to check only reliable resources, like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and your local/state government websites.

Create and follow a daily routine

Sticking to a routine can help bring a sense of normalcy back into your life. Try waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, having regularly scheduled meals, getting dressed for the day, and stick to your regular working hours if possible. Also try adding something new into your routine, like a daily workout or calling a friend.

Stay virtually connected with others

Video calls with friends and family can help beat isolation. Set up a scheduled time to have a virtual coffee or lunch date with a friend, start a book club and discuss weekly over video calls, call a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while and reconnect. There are many ways to stay connected to your loved ones even when you can’t see them physically.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink plenty of water, exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and take a walk outside. It is mood-boosting to be in nature and get some sunshine, but please remember to try and keep at least 6 feet apart when enjoying the spring weather.

Communicate feelings of stress, anxiety, and worry

This is a difficult time for everyone and sharing how you are feeling with family and friends may help you and them cope by talking about fears, worries, etc. and the ways you are trying to deal with your emotions. If you have children, be sure to communicate with them as well. Be as open and honest as possible in an age-appropriate way and give them the space to process feelings, especially if they have fears or anxiety.

 

Meditation and Yoga can help keep your stress levels down. Here are some resources if you are new and looking for a place to start:

MAINTAINING PHYSICAL HEALTH DURING COVID-19

Our physical health has a great affect on how we feel mentally. Even though social distancing guidelines are making daily life complicated, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to maintain good physical health and staying active while we are adjusting to this new way of life for the time being. If exercise and healthy eating wasn’t part your previous daily routine, now is a great time to start. Here are some tips on how to stay healthy while practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Nutrition

It’s essential to maintain a healthy and balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins all the time, but especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Eating well is just as important for your physical and mental health as exercising and getting good sleep.

While it is good to have a robust supply of dry and canned goods, now is a great time to buy fresh produce too. You can cut up and freeze what you aren’t using and keep in the freezer for a few months. You can also do the same with fresh proteins as well and freeze immediately if not using that day.

Physical Activity

You may not be able to go to the gym, but there are plenty of options to stay active. It’s okay to walk, run, or bike outside as long as you are keeping a safe distance – ideally at least six feet- from other people. You can even play in your yard with your family to incorporate more physical activity in their daily routines as well.

If you don’t have great access to the outdoors, at-home workout options are great. If you already belong to a gym or attend fitness classes, check to see if they are providing any virtual classes or online workouts. There are a lot of great free resources available for home exercise programs like Daily Burn, Obe Fitness, and The Body Project that have different types of workouts you can choose from and do from home. Youtube also has many free videos that fit any type of at home workout, whether you are a beginner, interested in dance classes, body weight fitness, or workouts that require no equipment.

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial for just about every aspect of your health, and understandably it might be harder to fall and stay asleep these days if you are experiencing stress and anxiety. Getting quality rest every night will help you feel energized and keep stress levels down during the day.

If you are experience sleep issues, yoga and meditation are great tools for managing stress and helping you calm down. Try InSight Timer, it is a free guided meditation app that can help with sleep, anxiety, and stress. Try to keep the blue light from phone and computer screens at a minimum and not use directly before you sleep.

Health Care

To limit exposure to the coronavirus, try to postpone or hold off on scheduling non-essential medical appointments, such as annual physicals and dental cleanings, and using telemedicine for pre-scheduled appointments that need to happen, other illnesses like the flu or strep throat, and for managing chronic conditions. If you have a pressing medical need, you can and should seek care, but please call your doctor’s office or hospital first before arriving, as they may have containment procedures in place now.

HIGH-RISK PATIENTS & COVID-19

While it is true that anyone no matter the age, race, gender, or health group can contract Coronavirus COVID-19, there are people who are at a higher risk of contracting and experiencing more severe complications. Since COVID-19 is a new disease, there is limited information regarding risk factors, however based on current information and clinical experience, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness. Based on available information, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Underlying conditions such as:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have serious heart conditions
    • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
    • People of any age with severe obesity, or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease

If you fall under any of the high-risk categories, here are steps that you can take to help prevent getting sick:

  • Stay home
    • Check if family, friends, or neighbors can do your grocery shopping
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with others (at least 6 feet)
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition

HOW TO WORK FROM HOME, THE RIGHT WAY

The idea of working from home in our pajamas always seemed like it would be a great idea. The ability to make home cooked meals and plan crafts throughout the day for our kids was a scene out of an Instagram post. Now that we are here, it is not so picture perfect.

The reality of juggling your workload at home during COVID-19 is starting to settle in. Here are a few things we have put together to help you be successful with less stress.

Maintain a Routine

  • Maintaining structure during the day can lessen the chaotic feeling when we are multitasking our work and home responsibilities.
  • Stick to your usual bedtime and wake time.
  • Schedule your work hours
  • Get showered and dressed for the day.
  • Take a 10-minute drive in your car to “get to work.” Can do the same when “leaving work.”
  • Create your workspace and only work when in that space.
  • Turn off social media and email notifications while you are at work.
  • Schedule in time for exercise, cooking, eating and social calls.
  • Don’t forget to add mini breaks! (15-minute walk, deep breathing or meditation -bonus stress reduction)

 

Schedule Idea:

7:00 a.m. – Wake up, stretch, take care of kids/animals

7:30 a.m. – Breakfast and family time (technology free!)

8:30 a.m. – Work and check on updates with small breaks every 30 minutes or so

12:00 p.m. – Lunch break, get fresh air, stretch & exercise

1:00 p.m. – Work with breaks every 30 minutes, check in with co-workers

5:00 p.m. – Dinner and screen break! Call a friend, family, or loved one

7:00 p.m. – Self-care time

9:00 p.m. – Bedtime

 

Create an Office Space

  • Try to find a space with a door that can be closed. Creating physical boundaries can help reinforce the message that you need to be working. Anyplace in the house with internet access can act as an office, especially for when you have to ensure calls are uninterrupted. (including pets)
  • Check with your manager to set up a kickoff call in the morning to start the day.
  • Remember posture and ergonomics to prevent achy backs and necks. Have your screen at eye level. You can prop it up on books if needed.

Work as a Team

  • Split Responsibilities. If you and your partner are home arrange responsibilities for each day so one person is not overwhelmed.
  • Kids at home? If able, split the day so each adult has designated time to work uninterrupted. Check to see if your work can be flexible with work hours. (Starting a little earlier or working later)
  • Virtual babysitters – Enlist family and friends to Facetime/Zoom/Google meet with your kids to read stories, dance, sing, play games. Get a few things done at that time!

Unplug

  • Schedule time for getting your news and connecting through social media outlets. When we scroll through news and social media while working our productivity declines.
  • Set aside a period of time each day without screens. Get outside for a walk, start a hobby, read a book, draw, paint, write.
  • Unplugging 1-2 hours before bedtime helps your mind wind down and get ready for sleep.

Blame it all on Susan😊

  • When all else fails, blame it on Susan! No really- blame it on her and bring some humor to your day.
  • Create an imaginary adult at home and give her or him a name. Blame trivial things on this person instead of adding to high tensions at home with relationships
  • Example – “Susan forgot to put her dishes away last night”

SOCIAL DISTANCE, SELF-QUARANTINE, OR SELF-ISOLATE: WHATS THE DIFFERENCE?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of new vocabulary being tossed around. Especially the terms social distancing, self-quarantine and self-isolate. We know these words help limit the spread of the virus but what’s the difference between them?

Social distancing refers to creating physical distance between people—6 ft apart—rather than preventing feeling close and connected to others (virtually, of course). Social distancing helps prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people to better reduce the virus from spreading. Therefore, group events and concerts are being cancelled and certain public places are closing.

When it comes to self-quarantine and self-isolation both sound similar however there is a distinction between the two.

Self-quarantine in general means the separation of a person or people. In this situation, self-quarantine is referring to separating people who were exposed to COVID-19, but not yet symptomatic, and restricts them from others who have not been exposed in order to prevent the possible spread of the disease.

When a person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and the symptoms are mild enough for the patient to be managed at home and not in the hospital—this is self-isolation. Self-isolation contains the basic elements of social distancing and self-quarantining and separates sick people from people who are not sick.

So, to keep yourself and others safe, you social distance—staying 6 ft apart. If you are at high risk of becoming sick, you self-quarantine. If you are sick or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you self-isolate. And lastly—if you need us, we are there for you.

YOUR FAMILY & COVID-19

Do you find yourself struggling to balance work, child care and self-care while keeping fears and worries—both yours and your children’s— under control? We’re here to help. Here’s a short guide to help you keep it all together.

Keep routines in place but remain flexible. Structure the day for learning, free time, healthy meals and snacks, physical activity and bedtime. While it’s nice to have a set routine, be sure to allow flexibility—it’s okay to adapt based on your day.

Be creative about new activities—and exercise. While schools are closed, have hands-on activities, like puzzles, painting, drawing, and making things. Don’t forget about exercise! Take a walk with your child or go on a bike ride, anything active is good for physical and mental health.

Practice social distancing. If you have small meetups or play dates, consider hanging out with another family or friend who is also taking extra measures to put distance between themselves and others.

Practice everyday preventive actions. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Make you’re you and your kids are washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).

YOU’RE NOT ALONE: COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19 TESTING

Not everyone needs to be tested for (Coronavirus) COVID-19. The CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual healthcare providers.

Because we’ve been getting a lot of questions about COVID-19 testing—we thought we’d share some popular questions and answers that might help in making decisions about seeking care or testing.

  • When do you think you will have testing available, or do you expect to be able to provide that at some point?
    • At this time, we do not currently have any COVID-19 testing kits. Our current goal is to direct COVID-19 and presumptive COVID-19 members to the appropriate care level (Often, home with TLC) in order to allow the clinical team to remain available to all members virtually, be there to dispense medications, and to see those patient members who need in-person care as free from potential Coronavirus as possible
  • If someone is sick and not tested from our work but is in self-isolation, what do the remaining people do?
    • This would be a case to case basis. However, if the self-isolated person has symptoms, it is advised that those working in close proximity practice self-quarantine as well.
  • As the availability for testing becomes more accessible, is it true that these tests should be administered more liberally?
    • Testing recommendations will change when the availability of the testing and the prevalence of Coronavirus in the community changes. For example, even when testing is widely available, when a great many people have the virus, there is no need to test if you are mildly symptomatic. At the opposite end, when we are at the tail end of the virus and only a few people are affected, testing everyone around them becomes more important.
  • If an employee or immediate family member has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, but they have no symptoms, what should they do?
    • Self-quarantine for up to 14 days
  • Can a person test negative and later test positive for COVID-19?
    • Using the CDC-developed diagnostic test, a negative result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in the person’s sample. In the early stages of infection, it is possible the virus will not be detected. For COVID-19, a negative test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms likely means that the COVID-19 virus is not causing their current illness.

This current guidance may change, but if you need testing, your provider will help direct you to a testing facility if possible. Please remember to contact your provider first if you have symptoms, do not come into the office. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time with any questions. We are here to help.