Staying Healthy During Cold & Flu Season: Lessons Learned During Coronavirus Pandemic Restrictions by Dawn Taylor
Due to COVID-19, Americans have had restrictions in place since March that have changed our daily lives. Many people are working from home, kids are remote learning and many businesses have had to limit the number of customers they serve to minimize physical contact. While it has been difficult for many, I think there is something to take away from the pandemic moving forward.
This year's flu season is expected to be lighter. The reason being that with all the measures we are taking to contain COVID-19, we also will be protecting against the seasonal flu. Frequent hand washing, keeping our distance and wearing face masks helps us to stay healthy and also helps us prevent the sharing of colds, flu and, yes, COVID-19, which we may have even if we aren't showing symptoms. But especially during the winter months when many of us have colds and symptoms of seasonal illness, we need to consider a new mindset when are out in public.
The measures we are taking now should also be considered as a new normal to a certain degree. If we are sick, we should stay home. "In the past, it might have been acceptable to be sneezing and cough a little and still go to work or school, and now that would not be acceptable," said Kara Williams from Colorado in a CNN article. "That reduces the risk of transmission, too."
I think even after a vaccine is available for COVID-19, we should be more mindful of how our health affects others. Perhaps a cold and sniffles might not seem a big deal to an otherwise healthy individual, but if you are feeling even slightly unwell and decide to go to work or even out for a quick trip to the grocery store, you might be putting someone else at risk. Perhaps once all of this has settled, we should still throw on a mask if we absolutely have to run out. Maybe we will wash our hands more often than we have in the past. Perhaps we keep sanitizer and alcohol wipes on hand-in our cars, on our desks, etc.
While many people can't work from home, there are many who can. If only a small percentage of the work force chose to work from home, even half the time, it would minimize physical contact with others and during the winter months this would likely help to control the spread of viruses. With everyone using Zoom for meetings and school during the pandemic, maybe we use it more in the future to limit contact. It is technology that has gotten us through the pandemic thus far, so why not utilize it moving forward to minimize contact.
When my kids returned to school in September, the older kids were either hybrid remote and in-person school, or all remote. Younger kids were four days in and one remote because they need more structure and socialization. Why are there no cases of COVID yet? The reason for the older kids is that they are wearing masks, washing their hands and their classes are half the size which allows for social distancing. Amazingly successful model. The younger kids in bigger classes? They are with the same kids and teachers all day long and the mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing can be controlled and managed by the adults. Impressive, but amazingly simple. I am not suggesting that we stay with these models long term, but by tweaking some things we can manage how we interact with others.
If you or your child is sick, don't got to work or school. Wear a mask if you have mild symptoms of a cold as it might be the start of something worse. Wash your hands and teach your kids to do this often, as well. It really is one of the best practices we can take away from the pandemic. Limit contact with others as much as possible if you have to go out when you are under the weather.
While many of us are suffering from quarantine fatigue, we shouldn't forget the seriousness of the health and wellness of ourselves and others. By making some simple changes and adjustments to our daily lives, we will see less illness spread, even without a pandemic. A new normal.
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