COVID, Month 4: Where Are We?
It’s been approximately four months since COVID-19 caused a nation-wide quarantine in the U.S. Our day-to-day worlds have become quite different, as have the way in which we communicate with one another.
Where are we now?
Since the start of the virus in the U.S. there have been waves of ups and downs in the number of cases across the nation, varying by state and region. In general, the summer months have seen an increased number of social gatherings, the start of some reopening processes, and a more relaxed public attitude toward safety precautions. Relatedly, during the last 3 weeks, cases in the majority of states have also seen rises in the number of active COVID-19 cases.
While the number of cases in some states have declined, such as those in the northeast (New York reported a day of zero deaths from coronavirus last week, for the first time in months), many in the south and west have been rising.
What does it mean if the number of cases in your state is increasing?
Over the past 3 weeks, the majority of U.S. states have experienced increases in their number of COVID-19 cases.
In order to combat a growing spread, certain states have reversed or slowed reopening plans. A few states, such as New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, have enacted mandatory 14-day quarantine rules for visitors coming from states with high infection rates. Some places, like certain regions in California, have started fining people who aren’t wearing masks in public spaces.
If the number of cases in your state is increasing, take precautions. Be vigilant about wearing a mask in public, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, stay home if you feel ill, practice social distancing, and stay aware of health and safety updates impacting your local region.
To get more detailed case information for your state, check out this interactive map.
What does it mean if the number of cases in your state is decreasing?
Some states have seen their number of COVID-19 cases decline. This stabilization is a result of precautions taken to combat the virus, such as wearing masks in public and social distancing. If you live in one of these areas, continue to practice these positive habits to encourage the further stabilization and safety of your state.
“CoV-2 is a novel virus that we are just now starting to learn more about. If you enjoy living in a state that has a low case count, you are fortunate. The only way to keep the case counts low is to continue to social distance, mask, and practice proper hand hygiene.” – Dr. Josh Emdur
Is it safe to get routine procedures done?
Many people have been delaying routine health procedures due to concerns about going to the doctor’s office or other COVID-19 related reasons. Don’t delay routine health care without talking to your doctor first.
“People should NOT delay their routine health care, but should confer with their physician on what actually needs to be done urgently. It makes sense to delay some procedures that are not time sensitive.” – Dr. Josh Emdur
Is it safe to travel?
Several airlines have enacted safety precautions in response to COVID-19 to help make it safer to travel. For example, Delta Airlines and JetBlue Airlines have blocked all middle seats from booking (among other precautions), helping passengers more effectively social distance when they fly.
Ultimately, it’s up to your discretion if you need to travel during COVID-19. If you do decide to, be vigilant about wearing a mask, hand-washing and sanitizing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and minimizing your interactions with other people. Also, research the health and safety policies of your destination, as some places are requiring 14-day quarantines upon arrival.
Will schools re-open in the fall?
The re-opening of schools has become a hot topic as we move closer to the fall. Decisions will be made on a state-by-state basis. Some schools may continue with online teaching, alternate virtual learning and classroom teaching, or return to in-person teaching with new safety precautions in place.
Some big school districts across the country have decided to forgo in-person learning in the fall, such as Los Angeles and San Diego. Some, like New York City, are considering partial in-person openings with students attending in-person classes on a staggered basis. Others, like Nashville, that originally intended on a return to in-person learning, have reversed course given the concerning curve of the virus in the U.S. And some, such as Detroit, have implemented in-person learning, while instituting safety precautions such as mandatory face masks, social distancing, daily temperature checks, and regular disinfection of classroom surfaces. Some regions, such as Dallas, have considered offering students a choice between in-person instruction or virtual learning as we approach the fall.
For many states, the status on school re-opening remains TBD.
When will life feel a little more “normal”?
Scientists are hard at work testing potential vaccines for COVID-19. An effective vaccine holds promise for ushering in a more stable, consistent way of life.
According to the New York Times, 23 vaccines are currently in human trials. Scientists have the goal of producing a safe and effective vaccine by next year. In the meantime, we may continue to see fluctuations in regards to re-opening procedures and safety recommendations as more is learned about the virus.
Take the virus seriously.
- Continue to social distance
- Wear your mask every time you’re in a public space
- Wash your hands frequently
- Carry hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Check news updates regarding your local health and safety policies
- Maintain healthy sleep habits, nutrition, and physical fitness
- Stay home if you feel unwell
- Take care of your mental health
Until there is a vaccine, social distancing and hand-washing behaviors are still your best defense against COVID-19.
“The pandemic has proven to make the most stoic among us anxious. We are living in a scary time, but rest assured that we will get through this. Keep in mind that most people who get the virus will only experience a mild flu-like illness. In order to stay safe and sane, be sure to get plenty of sleep and practice socially distanced exercise like walking, hiking, running, or biking. Use this time at home to work on mindfulness and meditation.” – Dr. Josh Emdur
While it may feel like news and safety recommendations about COVID-19 change each day, it’s because more and more is being learned about the virus. As more information is collected, health officials can better determine how to guide you to protect your health and the health of others. It’s an ongoing process but one that works.
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