CHARLOTTE – The COVID-19 virus is still affecting the community in a huge way. As the numbers rise and we see more people getting sick again, we start to think more about how to protect ourselves and our families. Most businesses have reopened, and we have returned to public places, including children returning to school. The question then becomes, “What is safe?”
The answer is not as simple as we would all like. There are many factors that determine if a place, activity, or event is “safe.” The most important answer to this question is to make sure that you are always staying vigilant: practicing physical distancing, wearing your mask, and practicing personal hygiene routines like washing hands. These are the critical steps to always follow when in the public. Dr. James Reed, Internist at Novant Health Mint Hill Family Medicine, advocates that we “use CDC regulations that are proven safety measures along with wearing masks and getting vaccinated. If you believe in the science of the vaccine, please get it now. Every one helps the whole.”
Keeping that information in mind, it may not have answered your question, “What is safe?” A better answer may be what to avoid and how to understand the ‘risk” of what you are doing. Risk is evaluated by the number of people that are in the direct area, being indoors or outdoors, masked or not, and the number of vaccinated versus unvaccinated individuals. Dr. Reed suggested when in a higher risk area that wearing an N95 Mask with a seal around your face is the best practice. These masks are designed to give you the most protection over standard face coverings. Higher risk activities would include gatherings with a large number of people (not vaccinated) while indoors when eating and drinking are taking place. Bars and restaurants that are crowded count as higher-risk activities. Covering your face, washing your hands, and practicing the best hygiene routines is one of the best ways that you can protect yourself and your family.
When evaluating what is safer and what the risk level of a situation is, it is good to remember that wearing a mask and being vaccinated is one of the best ways to protect yourself and the ones around you. When thinking about visiting friends and family, it is important to make sure you stay vigilant with making sure to practice social distancing and using face coverings. To reduce risk levels, you can avoid hugging, being with a large number of family members at one time, and gathering indoors when possible. Spending time outdoors is a generally safe activity. Exercising to taking a walk with a friend in the park is a great way to socialize while reducing the risk, especially when you stay 6 feet apart. One of the best ways to reduce your risk is to avoid crowded areas where people are waiting/being close together while talking and/or eating, especially indoors. When traveling or using public transportation from buses to planes, make sure to wear an N95 Mask that has a seal.
Currently, the numbers show a large number of the people that are being hospitalized due to COVID are unvaccinated individuals. It is important that we all do our part in being safe and helping others stay safe. Washing our hands and practicing good hygiene is still one of the basic elements that we can not forget. Make sure to practice proper hygiene routines, wear a mask, and get vaccinated.