As we near winter in North America where the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging, one thing has become glaringly obvious: Cold weather will make things much, much worse.
Historically, viruses like the seasonal flu peak during the late fall and winter months (last year in the U.S., there were 40 times more cases in the fall and winter than during the spring and summer). If Covid-19 follows the same pattern, we could be facing at least another 300,000 deaths in the U.S. in coming months.
Though these numbers are scary, there are several steps you can take to help protect yourself and others during the coming months.
Keep reading for some simple tips and tricks:
Prevent Getting Sick
Covid-19 is thought to spread person-to-person, mainly through respiratory droplets in the air. Unfortunately, the dry winter atmosphere makes it possible for those droplets to remain in the air for longer periods of time – even after the sick individual has left the room.
The best way to avoid getting ill is to stay in your home and limit face-to-face interactions with other people as much as possible. Since that is not always feasible, help keep yourself safe by following these simple precautions from the CDC:
- Wash hands frequently 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.
- Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid close contact with other people, even inside your home. A distance of at least six feet (about two arms-length) is suggested.
- Wear a face mask when in public and around others who are not a part of your household. Continue to keep a six-foot distance between yourself and others, even when wearing a mask.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your elbow. Immediately wash your hands after coughing or sneezing.
- Minimize social gatherings – Stay connected with friends and family who don’t live in your home by calling, using video chat, or interacting on social media.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (phones, doorknobs, light switches, etc.) daily with soap and water and then an approved disinfectant.
- Get a flu shot to help save health resources for those infected with Covid-19 and to help protect yourself from the seasonal flu.
Beware “Covid Fatigue”
As we near our second year of the pandemic, many people feel like they have “done enough” to protect themselves from the virus. They’ve spent months social distancing, wearing a mask, and working from home. And they’re tired of it.
Officials are dubbing this phenomenon “Covid Fatigue” – and they’re warning the public to remain vigilant.
Dr. Claude Mellins, a medical psychologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, says that it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t forever. “We’re gonna get through this,” she said. “That’s the first message of any disaster. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to be unchanged, but we will get through it.”
As we try to navigate the next few months, it’s important to keep Dr. Mellins words in mind. Getting through this winter certainly won’t be easy, but knowing there is an end in site will make it more bearable.
Stay safe and keep healthy.