That’s the question we’ve been asking since the coronavirus pandemic changed the world more than two months ago. But as we slowly start to ease restrictions and resume some of our pre-pandemic routines, it’s clear that some things will never be the same again. Prepare for the next several months – and the “new normal” by following national, state, and local guidelines, and commit now to doing all you can to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other potential infections. A good way to start is by planning for some of the changes that may affect you, and practicing good habits and routines that should be a part of everyday life moving forward.
Hand hygiene. Frequently washing your hands remains one of the easiest ways to prevent infection and illness – inside and outside of your home. Soap, warm water, and at least 20 seconds of vigorous washing are all it takes to help keep germs and viruses at bay. Keep antibacterial wipes or sanitizer gel handy for those times when washing your hands isn’t possible. Make sure your kids always have wipes or gel in their school bags.
Masks. Face masks aren’t foolproof, but studies show that they can significantly reduce the transmission of disease. Many retail establishments now require face masks, and they are quickly becoming mandatory on all flights. Expect face masks to be essential for travel, at sporting events and entertainment venues, and in crowded public places for the foreseeable future.
Remote work. Working from home has proven to be an effective solution for many businesses and job functions. With the benefits of less commuting, less exposure, and more flexible schedules to meet employee needs, many companies are likely to offer more options for some remote work. If you plan to continue working at least part time from home, make sure you have a space dedicated in your home that provides good lighting, a workstation that’s the proper height, and a supportive chair to avoid aches and pains.
Work environment. For those returning to an office or facility – and those who never left – new workspace configurations and protocols should be expected. These could include barriers between workstations, alternate day office sharing, enhanced cleaning procedures, employee temperature checks and more. Remember that you still need to take responsibility for your own safety, so ensure that you wipe down any shared or frequently touched surfaces with disinfectant, wear a mask when required or appropriate, and stay home when you have a temperature or feel unwell.
Restaurants and movie theaters. Reduced capacity limits will help keep these spaces safer, but will also have a significant impact on the businesses. Expect more restaurants to continue take-out and curbside delivery options to help meet demand. Sadly, many small and local establishments may not survive, so looking for ways to help support these businesses is an important step we should all take to help preserve our community.
Social distancing. While maintaining a six foot distance from all people might not be the new norm, there is an enhanced awareness of personal safe space that will carry on long after COVID-19. Be respectful in stores and public places and try not to crowd other people. This will help protect you as well as them.
Preventative care. Being proactive about your health has never been more important. An annual check-up with your primary care doctor is critical, along with keeping current on all immunizations and screenings. It’s particularly important to get an annual flu shot, especially as a potential second wave of coronavirus could coincide with flu season in the fall.
General healthcare. For some routine visits or new health concerns, virtual doctor visits will continue to be a convenient option. For in-office visits and screenings such as mammograms, expect new check-in procedures that limit crowding and allow for enhanced sanitization between patients. Hospitals and clinics have strict guidelines for patient and staff safety, such as requiring that all individuals wear masks, regular temperature checks and mandatory hand washing. Some precautions may seem inconvenient or time-consuming, but they will ensure the safest possible care for everyone.