Keeping Your Cool During a Second Wave
The second wave of the coronavirus is here. How can you prevent the spread and protect yourself?
Well it looks as though COVID-19 is here to stay — in fact, here in Canada, the second wave appears to be upon us. We've already been through a lot together through the spring and summer, but we need to stay vigilant. This fall and winter will ask a lot of each and every one of us!
The CBC coronavirus tracker puts the total number of confirmed cases in Canada at over 150,000. Worldwide, we're over 33 million. There has been some talk of vaccine development, but widespread access isn't likely until next year at the earliest. In the meantime, you need to do everything you can to protect yourself.
COVID-19 Alert app
We've written about the official COVID-19 Alert app as part of an article on contact tracing. The app was developed by Google and Apple, in concert with governments, to help slow the virus's spread.
When you have the app installed, it keeps an ear open for other app users in your proximity. If in the past two weeks, you've been within a few feet of someone who reports a positive case of COVID-19, your app will buzz and tell you to get a test.
The app doesn't collect any personal identification or location data. It just looks for other app users in nearby and warns you if one of them tested positive in the past two weeks.
If you haven't already, you should absolutely download the app. In Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador, you can report a positive test through the app itself. In other provinces, it's still handy to have. Make sure you keep Bluetooth activated so the app works!
Have you washed your hands lately?
You know this by now but it bears repeating: WASH. YOUR. HANDS!
Keeping your digits fresh and sparkling is one of your best lines of defence in this ongoing battle. Minimum 20 seconds of scrub time, please! Get your palms, your thumbs, the back of each hand, between your fingers, under your nails — just go wild. Public Health Canada has created an infographic to help with your technique (pdf).
You should be washing many times a day. It would be near-impossible to list all the occasions that should prompt a wash. When in doubt, just wash your hands!
No access to running water? Grab hold of some alcohol-based hand sanitizer, made with at least 60 percent alcohol. Just like when washing with soap and water, slather the liquid on your palms, between your fingers, and so on.
Wear a mask or face covering
Another must is a mask. Whether you're out in public or gathering with a few close friends, you've gotta wear your mask!
We're not talking medical grade, here; just something with two or more layers that covers your nose, mouth, and chin. Whether you go reusable or disposable, homemade or shipped from overseas, wearing a mask isn't just about protecting yourself: it's about protecting others, too.
Wearing a mask regularly takes some getting used to. Some workers and students must wear a mask all day long. If that's not you, you're lucky — but you should still wear it as often as you can.
There's lots of info on proper mask etiquette. You shouldn't touch it while you're wearing it, as impossible a task as that seems. You also shouldn't let it hang from your ear on standby; again, difficult! Do your best. Public Health Canada has a list of advice for mask-wearing that's worth reviewing.
Keeping your physical and social distance
When the outbreak began, "social distancing" was the term of art. Later, "physical distancing" became popular, to encourage people to continue socializing — just not so close together.
Either way, the idea is the same. Whenever and wherever possible, you should stay 2 meters away from others; especially people you don't live with. This means everywhere from Tim Horton's to the public library. (2 meters is about 6 feet. Spread your arms as wide as they go. That's not quite 2 meters, but it gives you a sense of the scale.)
Most places have guidelines in place, along with signage and stickers on the floor to direct the flow of traffic. This isn't the case in the streets, so be mindful of your surroundings. Give people a wide berth whenever you're able. And for goodness's sake don't touch anyone or shake their hand!
And of course, avoid going to parties, gatherings, get-togethers, soirées — basically anywhere there will be a keg. Jump on Zoom instead. It won't be as fun, but at least you'll keep yourself and your friends safe.
Just stay home already
Physical and social distancing is good practice to reduce the virus's transmission when you're around other people. Better still is not going near other people in the first place.
Glibness aside, staying home, away from the public square, is a good way to protect yourself. Sure, you'll still need to visit the grocery store and the like, but if you're able to stay home, you should. This means opting for online programs where possible, and working from home if your job permits.
When you do need to venture into the great unknown, remember the above, including handwashing, mask use, and physical distancing. When you don't need to venture out, don't!
If you can't resist, and you're meeting up with friends to swap tales of COVID woe, meet up somewhere outside, like a park or patio, where you can physically distance. There's evidence the virus spreads less effectively outdoors, so take advantage while you can, before the cold Canadian winter sends us back inside.
Public health advice: we see, we hear, we obey
Public Health agencies around the world are working overtime to get a handle on this crisis, and by and large, they're the experts. Specifically, the Public Health Agency of Canada has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.
So, when new public health advice comes out, take it to heart. The professionals at Public Health Canada and elsewhere are doing the best they can with limited data, and sometimes this means new evidence comes to light and guidelines change. You may recall early in the pandemic some experts advised against mask usage — just about everyone recommends it now.
When these updates reach the public, try your best to follow the instructions. Again, it's not just you, your friends, and your family. We're all counting on you to do your part during this pandemic. Stay curious and open-minded, and above all, stay positive. Nothing lasts forever, including this virus. The road to "normalcy" will be long and winding, but we'll get there — or at least, somewhere nearby.
So what can you do to help slow the spread of COVID-19?
- download the COVID Alert app
- was your hands (a lot)
- wear a mask whenever possible
- keep on physical and social distancing
- stay home, away from others, when you can
- follow the latest news from the Public Health Agency of Canada
- try to be positive!
While the world awaits a vaccine, we march on. This pandemic is certainly a hassle. On the plus side, how many monumental, world-changing events does the average person get to live through? (Let's hope this is the last one for a while.) 2020 is sure to look pretty wild when it's in the rearview mirror, but for now, we have to look ahead to a better, brighter future. We'll get there together!
Learn more about COVID-19