Just because many businesses are open again doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. The coronavirus is still on the loose — actually surging in many locations such as Florida — which means people have to make serious choices about their health all day, every day.
Nothing in life is without risk, and decisions ultimately hinge on individual calculations. But, according to the public health experts we consulted, there are steps you can take — and signs to look for — to make you feel comfortable and help you decide whether to open the door and walk in. Sometimes, you may want to opt out.
First and foremost, assess your personal situation.
People with certain health conditions — from heart disease to diabetes or obesity, patients undergoing treatments for cancer, or people who are older or who live with older relatives, for example — should limit their outings to a far greater extent than people not in higher-risk categories.
“Some people should not take that risk at all,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “It doesn’t mean you can’t go outside, or go somewhere where you can chill out and relax. But do it away from other people.”
The advice you’ve heard all along still holds: When you go out, wear a mask, keep your distance from others and avoid crowds.
You should also notice the mask-wearing habits at stores and restaurants you might visit. In general, the experts agreed: no mask, no customer. Employees, owners, managers and customers should all have them. If they are not being used, walk away, experts said, especially in regions mandating face coverings. Also, look for signs on the door directing people to wear masks.
Here are additional considerations for situations you may encounter:
Retail: It’s a plus if an employee is checking customers for masks before they enter. Other things to look for: stores with sanitizer to wipe down baskets, limits on the number of people inside and arrows directing traffic.
“I find a store that has gone to the trouble to mark out places for people to stand in line 6 feet apart indicate the store is taking it seriously,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
Extra credit for stores that say they are taking steps to improve their ventilation and filtration systems. Large or outdoor areas are a positive sign. But smaller shops can also arrange displays and merchandise in ways that support social distancing.
Restaurants: Look for tables spaced well apart. Outdoor trumps indoor. “Go to a place where you can make a reservation outside,” said Benjamin, who said he has recently dined inside, too. “But there are issues with airflow, so outside is better.”
Hair salons: Common areas should be cleaned regularly and the number of customers limited. Select salons that make appointments. Bonus points if you can wait outside until they call or text you to say it’s your turn.
Gyms/pools: Look for facilities with room to space out equipment. Cleaning supplies should be plentiful. Mask requirements are better than not, but some activities make usage difficult. Outdoor classes are better than indoor. Pools should limit the number of people in lanes and instruct swimmers to avoid bunching at the walls or other areas.
Cleaning/home repair: Tara Kirk Sell, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, pointed out that there are differences in considerations for someone, such as repair person, who is an occasional or rare visitor, and someone who comes in regularly, such as a house cleaner. “Having an open dialogue about practices to follow and potential illnesses with someone who is regularly in your house is ideal,” she said.
A tip for cleaning day: Plan to be out, or move to different parts of the house — perhaps to the second floor while they clean the first — to minimize exposure.
For more occasional situations, such as repairs, workers should wear masks when speaking with you or entering your home. If all the activity is performed outside, such as gardening or repairing a fence, face coverings are not such a concern.
Plescia said it’s best to ask such questions or state your requirements when scheduling the appointment. “If you communicate ahead of time and they show up without a mask, you can say, ‘We discussed this.’” To ratchet it up a notch, inquire about the worker’s health. Have they been sick? How are they feeling? Have they tested positive or been around anyone who has?
It’s also important to be courteous, said Sell. “The homeowner needs to wear a mask as well when in the same space as the worker. And obviously, you wouldn’t want to arrange for such a visit if you were sick.”
Day care/camp for kids: If the facility is inside, check to see if counselors/caregivers are wearing masks. While indoors, ideally, the kids should be, too. Other important questions to ask: Are staffers regularly tested for the coronavirus? Ask about sick leave policy. Do they have one? If it’s a small place, there may not be a formal policy. But inquire about workers’ ability to stay home without losing their jobs if they are sick or test positive, said Sell.
Hotels: Rooms should be cleaned thoroughly and, in the best case, vacated at least several hours before you arrive. Other tangibles that can add peace of mind: hard-plastic dividers between you and front-desk staff and limits on groups of people gathering in lobbies. It’s even better if they have “touchless” check-in. Once in your room, wipe down surface areas — tables, light switches and, especially, the television remote control. Consider bringing your own pillow.
What to avoid: All three experts said to skip bars, especially indoor settings, as it’s almost impossible to properly distance from others or to wear masks. “You go to bars because you enjoy the fact there’s other people there and, when there are a lot of people, it’s hard to keep 6 feet distance,” said Plescia. “When people drink, they do lose some judgment and are more likely to let their guard down.” Sporting events, where people “are right on top of each other,” is another taboo, said Benjamin. Sell recommended against house parties or other large gatherings.
–Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News
Everything on this list should be avoided altogether until this thing is over. There should be no reason for anyone to be eating at restaurants or going to hair and nail salons. Stay Home and help stop the spread of covid. Keep schools ,camps and day cares closed. DO YOUR AMERICAN PART!
Another one lost says
“Until this thing is over”? Dr. Fauchi say’s it may never be totally eradicated. If we wait until it’s “over” their will be nothing left to open up to.
Sandy P says
I agree with Sal. I always enjoyed Joe’s NY Pizza. Delivery only. I recently ordered a small pie and a sausage roll. The request for extra sauce and cheese on the pie was ignored and the sausage roll wasn’t cooked thoroughly. the mozzarella cheese was still in it’s shredded form and mot melted so it barely spent any time in that oven. When I called there was no manager or owner available, only the kitchen manager. I asked if cooks were wearing masks and that answer was no, it’s not mandatory. Sorry not eating anything from a place where a sneeze, cough, sweaty hands are handling my food,
Speak for yourself Sal,
The rest of us will continue our lives, and our community functions, all while observing reasonable precautions. That is how communities prosper.
PS : Is Nancy Polosi your auntie?
Concerned Citizen says
That’s great in an ideal world. Unfortunatley as a maintenance technician providng cleaning services I’ve worked from Day 1 thru all of this. There has been no stay home stay safe. Or quarantine. I have been tested and the results were negative. I take all proper precautions while working. And do mitigate exposure. When home I use delivery service with no contact as much as I can.
I do want to reiterate this. For goodness sake please STOP discarding your used PPE in Parking lots and on Sidewalks. It is unsanitary and unsightly. And you are littering. You are not providing me with job security. You are a distraction from more important tasks. You are not providing job security to that young cashier who has to go police the parking lot. That’s a self entitled comment to make you feel big. And really makes you look like an asshat to us.You are littering and exposing others to your contaminated PPE. If you don’t want to handle your own PPE what makes you think we do?
If a trash can isn’t optional then carry grocery or trash bags in your trunk. Wait until you get to your vehicle and bag it. Then dispose of it in your own can when you get home. It’s really not that hard. I promise!! Enough of this trash in parking lots causes a busniess to get a citation from code enforcement. It is also not biodegradable. We are finding it in our ponds and drainage systems. And it stays until we pick it up.
If you think I’m being petty put this in perspective. Say I drive down your street every day. And take my mask gloves and other garbage and toss them casually in YOUR driveway or yard. Oh? You don’t like that? I figured not. Well the same goes for whatever parking lot you happen to be in.
A little consideration goes a long way when dealing with an already stressful situation.
You are so right ,I take a hike everyday of at least 5 miles,used to be the trash I saw the most was beer cans and mcdonalds bags, now it is masks ,gloves and syringes. florida park drive has become littered with this crap. The same 2 syringes have been on the ground near holland park for probably a month now along with about 10 masks between fleetwood and where you turn into publix. and NO ,I am notgoing to pick any of this shit up,palm coast pays people to do that.If you are done with your PPE and syringes put them in your own trash.
Stop driving until it is possible to prevent death or injury from driving. And for those who say this is a poor analogy I say Bullshit. It’s a perfect analogy. I can catch death just as easily from your shitty driving habits. If you are shitty driver stay at home. I will wear my sear belt and I will wear a mask. But stop the hysteria. Before the Rona according to CDC numbers on average 58k Americans die every week from all causes. If you look at the numbers since end of May through the first week of July numbers are at that level and lower. Numbers from Mid June to present are much lower but those will still be adjusted up some. Less people are dying in the US now including from the Rona than before. Yes it’s real and we need to protect the vulnerable and people need to take precautions and STFU and wear a mask, But people are losing their homes, losing everything they have because the left is making this a political tool and he teachers unions are doing what they always do…… they care more about trying to squeeze more money for their members than educating our kids.
Lil Bird says
Sal, American life involves freedom. If u wanna stay home please do. If you don’t, don’t. Your comfort zone isn’t necessarily mine. Viruses, germs, etc all exist and there are risks for all activities, like driving a car or participating in sex. Know your risks and assess for yourself, but don’t tread on me!
Trailer Bob says
It just defies logic, to me, that so many people in Flagler County do not believe there is a serious virus going around.
Just because you don’t know anyone who has it (or knows if they have it) should be looked at as a sign that we are doing well here with regard to the number of cases. It DOES NOT mean that many will not get it if we continue to decide not to wear masks, or a face shield, or keep a distance from others. Instead of feeling lucky that Flagler is not getting slammed like other areas of Florida, I find way too many people who feel we are doing pretty good here BECAUSE the virus is fake, and merely a way for the Government to “control us”.
My concern is that those who choose not to protect themselves are also choosing not to protect others, like my wife, or son, or grandaughter, or great granddaughter. I too feel the stress of this all, worrying, wearing the damned masks, keeping six feet away when trying to socialize to keep sane. But we don’t know much at this point. So please at least do the minimum while near the rest of us. THAT should not be such a difficult thing to ask. Peace out and happy weekend.
C’mon man says
Don’t believe everything the government tells you. Realistically, more people will die by drug overdose and suicide in Flagler this year then By Covid.
Two people walk into a bar, [….suspenseful waiting for the punch…..] and 3 catch covid.
Wait, I guess that was not a joke? :-/ Sorry, but I guess this is how America is now.. Biden my time till something better comes along.. BIDEN my time … get the joke?
watch out for palm coast out back ,they were a filthy place before covid came along,and I doubt they have got any better,when a place gives me silverware that has someone elses food residue twice in one visit that proves theyre disgusting ,plus instead of being apologetic the manager copped an attitude.I am a germ freak to begin with and since resteraunts were partially re-openned we have gone out a few times ,however my germ free ways go above and beyond these reccommendations ,with scrubbing up with hand sanitizer being first on the list.As long as the employees wear a mask and the place is clean we are o-k. Palm coast sonnys, St augustine red lobster and palm coast roadhouse and cracker barrel are all nice and clean.
Follow the recommended guidelines. If you have any conditions that you have concerns about. Then yes, stay home. Limit contact. For my family, we are going out and being smart about it. Masks, wipes, wash hands, social distant….all of it. But we will not stop going out and supporting our local establishments that practice proper guidelines.
Wow things are certainly not getting any better in Florida, 13 staright weeks with cases over 6000, with deaths soaring. Kids by the many, across the country are catching corona after just one day of school. Stay home people! No indoor dining! No hair and nails is not ok, its very selfish. Close the economy and schools asap! Vaccine should be here sometime next year. Hunker down, Together as Americand we can get threw this.
Lil ol Me says
Did everyone drink the kool-aid?
People that don’t follow the guidelines, well they must have a direct path to God or just don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. And a crappy business before Covid is still going to be a crappy business with Covid. I feel with Covid it will never be cured, just like the Flu, just like HIV, just like the common cold. But a vaccine that will give a % of the population a chance to not get it, well would be nice to have. MY immune system is compromised at the moment and I take wearing my mask, washing my hands and social distancing very seriously. If I walk into a business and they are not wearing a mask, or cleaning the counters or tables after someone has sat there, I leave. But what I do find, is that the “TOURIST” (And most are from NJ, NY, PA,. ) I see around walking into business are not wearing mask and they still gather in groups not to mention the young people that feel they are immune to anything. Well these healthy young people are getting Covid as well and some have died, so their taking a dare with faith is not working. It would be nice if all peoples thought about others instead of being stuck on themselves and maybe this virus might slow down.