Although many states have begun their phased reopenings, officials are still urging Americans to follow social distancing during Memorial Day weekend. It is the first major holiday during the coronavirus pandemic, and there have already been plenty of viral examples of people ignoring social distancing guidelines. With that in mind, it is essential to look back at what those guidelines are, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., states across the country began imposing stay at home orders, and the term "social distancing" became common. It is more than just staying six feet away from strangers, though. As the CDC explains, staying away from other people is important to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. The disease can be spread among people who come in close contact during a "prolonged period" through coughs, sneezes or even talking as the droplets from a person's mouth or nose can carry the virus in the air. It is possible to get the virus by touching a surface previously contacted by someone with the virus, but it is not "thought to be the main way" it spreads, according to the CDC.
Heading into Memorial Day, the U.S. has more coronavirus cases than any country in the world, with over 1.64 million, reports Johns Hopkins University. The death toll has reached over 97,600, although more than 366,000 patients have recovered. The CDC has said social distancing can help slow the spread, so here are the tips to keep in mind.
Stay 6 Feet Away From Other People
The most well-known part of social distancing has been staying six feet away from other people. Many grocery stores and other essential businesses have even put stickers on the floors to remind people to keep a distance between them. One reason this has been drilled into Americans' heads is that people can carry the coronavirus without showing symptoms. "In addition to everyday steps to prevent COVID-19, keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to this virus and slowing its spread locally and across the country and world," the CDC notes.
Wear a Face Mask or Face Covering
Even states that have begun reopenings have asked people to wear face masks or face coverings in public. Several governors have even issued executive orders requiring people to wear masks in enclosed places. The CDC suggests still standing six feet away from other people while wearing masks.
The chief reason for wearing face masks is they can help prevent the spread from those who may have the coronavirus but not show any symptoms yet or do not know if they have it. Face masks help prevent the wearer from unknowingly spreading the virus and can protect them from contracting it. "Cloth face coverings provide an extra layer to help prevent the respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people," the CDC notes.
Avoid Large Gatherings
City and state governments now have different guidelines on gatherings. For example, in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo still banned gatherings of more than 10 people for non-essential purposes. In nearby New Jersey though, Gov. Phil Murphy is allowing gatherings of up to 25 people outside, reports NBC New York. Indoor gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned in the Garden State. It is important to check your state and local government websites for details on their guidelines.
People 65 or Older, or With Underlying Health Conditions Should Stay Home
The most people most vulnerable to COVID-19 are people 65 or older and those with underlying health conditions. The CDC suggests those who fall into those categories continue staying home as much as possible. However, it is important to note that the coronavirus has killed people across several age groups. Last week, The Washington Post reported that doctors have found a few young adults suffered from an inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19 that is similar to symptoms of Kawasaki disease.
Memorial Day brings warm weather along with it, which will make it really hard for anyone to stay inside. If you can avoid large gatherings, there is no reason not to go outside though. As Vox notes, open air makes it more difficult for airborne droplets to go from one person to another. It is also easier to keep your distance from others when outside in a large, open area. Plus, some studies show that warm and humid weather can hit the virus a little bit. It will not completely stop it, as outbreaks in warm climates have shown, but it can help.
Keep Following Good Hygiene Practices
It's important to keep washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds and do not touch your face. The virus can live on different surfaces for hours and even days, some studies have shown. If you touch those surfaces, then touch your face, you could pick up the virus through your eyes, nose or mouth. In addition, when you wash your hands, you have to remember to wash every part of your hands, including the backs, your fingertips and your wrists. You can also use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content.