by Jennifer Aist BS, IBCLC, RLCThe Children’s Hospital at Providence & Women’s Services
We have now reopened the economy, from the health community standpoint, how do we stay safe?What are some guidelines we should follow?
With Alaska starting to open up again, many members in our communities have questions about how to stay safe and healthy. While there is much about this Novel Coronavirus that we still don’t know, doctors, scientists and other experts on infection prevention do know basic ways to lessen your chances of getting infected with COVID-19.
1. First and foremost, if you are not feeling well or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, stay home.
2. Wear a face mask out in public. This is really important. The daily number of infected individuals in Alaska has increased. That is directly because of the Hunker Down order being lifted and folks not wearing masks when they have to go out.Simple cloth masks are very helpful in stopping the spread of the virus from one person to another. COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. When you cough, sneeze, or have a runny nose, you spread respiratory droplets. A mask helps to contain them. NOTE: children under the age of 2 should not wear a face mask. You can make your mask even more effective by doing the following:
a. Wash it every day. Cloth masks can be made from many household items such as handkerchiefs, T-shirts, napkins, etc. There are many patterns available that do not require any sewing—just a pair of scissors. Make several masks for each member of your household so everyone can wear a clean one each day. Regular household laundry techniques are fine for washing. b. Make sure it fits well. You should be able to breathe well while wearing the mask. Your nose and mouth should be fully covered to stop the spread of respiratory droplets. Wearing your mask just over your mouth does not stop the spread of the virus. Both your nose and mouth should be covered. c. Change it frequently. If your mask is moist, put a new one on. If it is visibly soiled, put a new one on. d. Avoid touching your mask or face. I know it is super hard but avoid touching your face or mask as much as possible. When you touch your mask while it is moist, then touch something else like the grocery store cart, you have just spread your respiratory droplets. Then someone else touches the cart and touches their mouth or nose. That is how the virus can spread. Remember, you can be spreading the virus even when you don’t have any symptoms.
3. The midnight sun is here and with the daylight come the mosquitoes. At this time, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread by mosquitoes. Good news!
4. Playgrounds are opening up and lots of parents are wondering about using them. The Municipality of Anchorage recommends keeping a safe distance of 6 feet from others, avoiding crowded areas, and washing hands frequently. Bringing a bottle of hand sanitizer with you will make this easier.
5. Shopping can be done safely by wearing a mask and regularly washing your hands.
6. Hospitals and doctor offices are doing everything possible to keep patients and families safe. If you are needing medical attention for any reason, please do not delay getting care. Many doctors are offering virtual visits. If you need to be seen in person, call first and then follow the same recommendations as stores or playgrounds. Wear a mask and keep your hands clean.
These are challenging times for everyone. We are all learning together and will get through this together. Never before has community been more important. It is hard to stay home. It is hard to keep up with the guidelines from the Governor and the Mayor. Hang in there.Remember that your efforts can work if you wear a mask and stay home. Thank you!
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