Masks, social distancing, hand washing still important as state slowly reopens

On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans for slowly reopening the state.

That does not mean business as usual. The COVID-19 virus is still a danger. The recommended health and safety precautions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still apply. These precautions are more important than ever because you may come in contact with more people, and because people will start to travel more between areas where the COVID-19 numbers have been relatively high to those with fewer cases.

• Home is still the safest place for those who are over the age of 65 or who have underlying health issues such as diabetes or a compromised immune system.

• Keep washing your hands. Washing your hands multiple times a day with soap and water is still a primary way to prevent the spread of germs. Not only does it help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it also helps prevent the spread of the common cold and other diseases. A study conducted by the U.S. military found that requiring soldiers to wash their hands five times a day significantly reduced the number out on sick call.

• Maintain the recommended 6-foot distance from others in public. CDC has recommended a “social distance” of 6 feet between those in public spaces. They have determined that many people who are infected with the virus can be contagious before they show any symptoms and that a large percentage of COVID-19 positive cases have no symptoms. Unless you have been tested recently, you don’t know if you are COVID-19 positive. And even if you have tested negative, you could have contracted the virus after you were tested.

• Wear a cloth mask over your nose and mouth in public. This protects other people from you, should you be contagious. The masks other people wear protect you from them, should they be contagious. The virus can travel in small droplets of moisture that are expelled from your mouth and nose when you sneeze, cough or talk. Wearing a cloth mask, scarf or bandanna over your nose and mouth prevents those droplets from hitting other people or on surfaces others may touch. (Be sure to wash the cloth covering after each use.) This only works if everyone helps protect each other.

• Avoid large gatherings where it will not be possible to maintain the recommended social distance.

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