These COVID-19 Prevention Measures Could Reduce Spread of Influenza

Epidemiologists are predicting that the United States could experience an increase in the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming winter months of the year. This increase in cases is likely to come at the same time as the traditional winter influenza season. On Thursday, October 1, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top public health advisor, warned that the influenza season and COVID-19 pandemic could feed off of each other if people don't follow public health recommendations.

Nation's Top Public Health Advisor Provides Key Insight

Dr. Fauci explains that the advice given to Americans for lowering the risk of COVID-19 infection can also help reduce a person's risk of getting influenza. The symptoms of both diseases are similar, and both infections are spread through airborne droplets. There could be diagnostic challenges, and hospitals could exceed their capacities to care for sick people if these recommendations aren't followed. Dr. Fauci explains that continuing to follow COVID-19 prevention strategies could significantly reduce the spread of influenza this winter.

Maintain Social Distancing Procedures

As flu season ramps up, Dr. Fauci's advice includes maintaining all of the previously-recommended social distancing procedures. When you're out in public, stand at least six feet away from people who don't live with you. If you can stand a greater distance apart, that's even better. When social distancing isn't possible, you'll need to consider whether or not you should be at that location at that time.

Wear a Mask When in Indoor Public Settings

Even when you're able to stand at least six feet apart from others, you still need to wear a mask. Dr. Fauci's update to the American people encourages face coverings when in any indoor location. There are a few exceptions to this general rule. Children under the age of two should not wear a mask. Never put a mask on a baby. When you're actively eating or drinking, you don't need to wear a mask. If you go to a restaurant, you can take off the mask while eating. If you need to walk to the lavatory, put your mask on before leaving your table.

Wash Your Hands

Frequent hand washing is also important, explains Dr. Fauci. Be sure to wash with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Some good times to wash your hands include when you return home from shopping, when coming inside from outdoor activity, before preparing or eating food, after changing a diaper and after leaving someone's home or workspace. Hand sanitizer is an acceptable alternative when you don't have access to hand washing facilities.

Stay Home When You Don't Feel Well

During the autumn and winter months of the year, there are many activities. You might feel the pressure to go shopping for holiday gifts, volunteer at the food bank, help out at a child's school or run a bunch of errands. If you don't feel well, stay home. It's not worth the risk of spreading germs to others. When possible, minimize your errands and outings. If it can be done online, do it that way. You can do almost anything online, from depositing checks with an app on your phone to ordering groceries and having them dropped off at your front door.

Plan to Celebrate Holidays at Home

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you celebrate holidays at home this autumn and winter. Crowded events indoors with people from outside of your household are risky activities for spreading influenza and COVID-19. Although this year's holidays may have to be different than any other year's you've celebrated, this could be a time for some new, fun traditions. Staying home may reduce your stress level, and less stress means a better immune response if you do get sick. If you miss your out-of-town friends and family, video calls are a great way to see each other without being there in person.

Get Your Flu Shot

Dr. Fauci strongly encourages everyone who can to get a flu shot this year. The flu vaccine could prevent a lot of illnesses that would require treatment in emergency rooms and hospital intensive care units. Doctors don't know what could happen if you get influenza and COVID-19 at the same time or one after the other. If you don't want to be the guinea pig in that experiment, getting a flu shot could lessen your risk. Flu shots are available right now at pharmacies, clinics and doctor's offices.

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