COVID-19: My City is Reopening. How Can I Protect Myself?

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You may be living in an area where local officials have decided it’s time to begin loosening restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. While we can’t reduce our chances of becoming infected with the virus to zero, we can lower our risks and help reduce the coronavirus’ spread as restrictions are lifted.

If you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, it is important to stay home and away from other people. When can you leave home and be around other people? That depends on different factors for different situations. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations for your circumstances.

As your area starts to reopen, your risk for contracting COVID-19 will be tied to several different factors. In general, the closer and longer you interact with others, the higher your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19. Ask yourself these questions:How does interacting with people impact your safety?

  • The more people you interact with, the higher your risk.
  • If the people you interact with aren’t practicing physical distancing or wearing cloth face coverings, it increases your risk.
  • Being with new people (such as those who don’t live with you) also raises your risk.
  • Some people can have the virus without showing or experiencing any symptoms. But we still don’t know how often symptom-free people can spread the virus to others.

Can you keep six feet of space between you and other people? Will you be outdoors or indoors?

  • The closer you are to others (in terms of physical distance) who may be infected, the greater your risk of getting sick.
  • Keeping distance from other people is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.
  • Indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces, because indoor spaces make it harder to keep people apart. Indoor spaces also have less ventilation.

How much time will you spend with people?

  • Spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected.
  • Spending more time with people increases their risk of becoming infected if there is any chance that you may already be infected.

Ask these questions to help determine your level of risk:

Is COVID-19 spreading in my community?

Find out by viewing the latest COVID-19 information and a map of states with reported COVID-19 infections from the CDC.

How can I stay up-to-date on regulations in my community?

Read updates from your local health department to better understand the situation in your community and what local orders are in place. Also find out about school closures, business re-openings, and stay-at-home orders in your state.

Will I be in close contact with others?

Practice physical distancing because COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with others.

  • It’s important that you and the people around you wear a cloth face covering when in public and particularly when it’s difficult to consistently stay 6 feet away from others.
  • Choose outdoor activities and places where it’s easy to stay six feet apart, like parks and open-air facilities.
  • Look for physical barriers, like plexiglass screens or modified layouts, that help you keep your distance from others.
  • Use visual reminders—like signs, chair arrangements, markings on the floor, or arrows—to help remind you to keep your distance from others.

Am I at risk for severe illness?

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. While the risk for severe illness may be lower for some, everyone faces a certain risk. Some people have no symptoms, others have mild symptoms, and some get severely ill.

Do I live with someone who is at risk for severe illness?

If you live with older adults or someone with certain underlying medical conditions, then you and all family members should take extra precautions to minimize risk. Learn more about what you can do if you or any members of your family are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Do I practice everyday preventive actions?

Continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions, like washing your hands often, not touching your face with unwashed hands, physical distancingdisinfecting surfaces, wearing cloth face covers, monitoring yourself for symptoms, and staying home if you are sick.

Will I be sharing any items, equipment, or tools with other people?

Choose places where any items that are shared are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between uses. Or, visit places that share, post, or announce that they have increased cleaning and disinfection to protect others from COVID-19.

Will I need to take public transportation? 

Public transit can put you in close contact with others. When using public transportation, follow the CDC’s guidance on how to protect yourself when using transportation.

Will I be traveling to another community?

Before considering trips outside your community, consult the CDC’s travel considerations.

If I get sick with COVID-19, will I have to miss work or school? 

If you are sick with COVID-19, stay home. Also find out about telework or sick leave policies for your work or school.

Do I know what to do if I get sick?

Know the steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick.

If you decide to engage in public activities, continue to protect yourself by practicing everyday preventive actions. If you will be running an errand, follow the CDC’s recommendations on running errands.

Items to have on hand when out in public.

  • A cloth face covering
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, if possible

Stay Empowered, Stay Informed

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