At the beginning of each year we all hear the same resolution refrains, often relating to wellness goals such as eating healthier and exercising more. These things are important for staying healthy, however the past year brought new considerations.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned 2020 on its head and forced all of us to reevaluate how we live our daily lives and what the future is going to look like. But after just shy of a year spent in crisis mode, many people are feeling pandemic fatigue or burnout.
“The COVID pandemic has brought change and stress into our professional and personal lives. Many of us feel the pressure of, and are struggling with burnout or apathy over, the infection control practices we have been asked to adopt,” say Caleb Bleattler, BSN, RN, CIC, infection prevention specialist for Empath Health. “Vaccines have offered us a light at the end of the tunnel as we enter the New Year. I encourage everyone to remain vigilant as we are turning the corner in the COVID pandemic. There is more work to be done, but an end is in sight.”
As you think about your New Year resolution, consider what you can do to slow the spread of COVID-19. We can all hope for a brighter new year by pledging to:
Wear a mask whenever you leave your residence.
Everyone 2 years of age and older should wear a mask when they are around people who do not live in their household, when caring for someone who is sick or if you think you may be sick. When worn properly, masks help protect those around you and also offer some protection to you.
Choose a non-medical disposable mask or a cloth mask made with two or three layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric without valves or vents. Masks should fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Surgical masks and respirators should be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders.
Disposable masks should be thrown away after wearing once. Cloth masks should be washed whenever dirty, or at least once a day.
Wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
Handwashing should always be a part of good hygiene and now it’s more important than ever. Always wash your hands after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you can clean your hands. Washing your hands with soap and water is always the best way to stop the spread of germs.
There are five steps to proper handwashing:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water.
- Use soap to lather your hands, including between your fingers, under your nails and the backs of your hands.
- Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse under clean, running water.
- Dry using a clean towel or air dry.
When soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol by rubbing the gel over your hands and fingers until dry.
Maintain physical distancing.
Also called social distancing, this means keeping at least six feet between you and others who are not members of your household in both indoor and outdoor places.
Limit contact with others by choosing drive-through, curbside pick-up or delivery options for food and shopping when possible; and using video chat or social media to stay in touch with friends and family. If you do choose to meet others in person, plan an outdoor gathering where everyone can stay six feet apart and wear a mask.
Receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.
Vaccines are a safe way to build protection against infectious diseases and many protocols are in place to ensure this safety. To stop the pandemic, we need to use all of the tools available to us: masks, distancing, hand washing and a vaccine.
Now is a good time to make sure your family is up-to-date on of their immunizations, including the pneumonia vaccine for those age 65 and older.
These could be the easiest New Year resolutions to keep. Not only are you taking precautions to protect yourself, but also your family and the community.
Empath Health regularly care for patients with infectious diseases and follows robust infection control protocols from the CDC. Learn more about our response to COVID-19 at EmpathHealth.org/covid19.