Health Officials Offer Holiday Safety Tips During COVID-19

The Mecosta County Health District and other local health departments around the United States are reminding people that there's still a pandemic going on, and precautions must be taken in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The virus that causes COVID-19 won't take a holiday vacation, and you shouldn't let your guard down while celebrating during the holiday season.

Why People Need Another Reminder

Many people are developing what health experts call "COVID fatigue." This means that people are tired of the public health measures that doctors and epidemiologists recommend for slowing the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a mask can be annoying and uncomfortable. People miss their friends and family. Almost everyone is tired of missing out on celebrations, special events, outings and gatherings. The fatigue is causing a lot of people to let their guard down and forego the safety measures that kept the spread of COVID-19 relatively low over the summer months of the year.

Tips for Staying Safe When Doing Your Holiday Shopping

Whether you're doing a grocery run to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner or you're going to the toy store to pick up a gift for a special young child, there are safety measures you need to do. The most important thing is to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public places. Maintain social distancing at all times. Avoid getting physically close to anyone with whom you don't live. Keep a distance of at least six feet between you and others.

Wash Your Hands

Hand washing is also critical. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Do this after returning home, before cooking, after using the restroom and after handling any packages. If you can't wash your hands, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol. Some hand sanitizers have been recalled for containing a dangerous form of alcohol. Be sure to check if yours is on the list through the Food and Drug Administration website. Avoid touching your face.

Avoid Contact With Sick People

If you know someone is sick, avoid contact with them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidelines on what constitutes close contact. A cumulative amount of more than 15 minutes of exposure to a person infected with COVID-19 increases your risk of becoming infected. Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the 15 minutes had to be consecutive.

Stay Home If You Don't Feel Well

If you're sick, stay home. Don't go out for groceries or errands. If you need to go to the doctor, call first. They may have special plans for people with COVID-19 symptoms. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, arrange for a test. While you're waiting for your results, stay home. The health department will call you if you've been exposed to a case of COVID-19. If you're told to quarantine, do so to protect yourself and others. If you need help, tell the contact tracer. They'll put you in touch with community resources, such as food delivery or food bank services, property care, pet care and more.

Protect Your Immune System

Holiday stress can weaken your immune system and your body's ability to fight off all types of infections, including COVID-19. To protect your immune system, practice healthy stress reduction techniques. These include meditation, deep breathing, exercise and getting enough sleep. Consider using an app to track your thoughts, worries and fears. Be sure to stay hydrated and avoid excessive alcohol consumption during the upcoming holidays. Avoid overeating. People who are obese have a higher risk of COVID-19 complications.

Start New, Healthy Traditions

The 2020 holiday season will require some changes to what you usually do. You might not be able to host the family and social gatherings or attend them. A good alternative is a video call. Set up your smartphone or tablet on a holder. Put the holder on your dining room table and have a virtual holiday dinner with your loved ones. Create gift packages to drop off on your friend's or family's porch. You could also make gift packages to send through the snail mail. If you're known as the best cookie maker in the family, you could pack up a sampler of your treats, place them in well-sealed containers and mail them to your friends and family. Go for walks to see the lights, decorate your home and watch some favorite holiday movies.

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