As America prepares to reopen businesses, a pertinent question making the rounds is “When can I safely visit my family and friends?” Medical expert and family physician Bethany Panchal in an article for the Ohio State University has said that while there are no universal answers to the question, there are some tips that you can keep in mind, based on guidance from CDC and other public health entities.
Some of the major areas you need to think of before a decision to visit someone is:
Ensure everyone involved in the meeting plan have been healthy throughout the COVID 19 period for at least the past two weeks
Ensure that everyone involved in the meet-up plan has been healthy for at the past two weeks during this period. While any sign of COVID 19 need not be treated at a possible infection, it is best to avoid contact until the infected has been without a fever for at least three days and without any symptoms for about 10 days. Some of the symptoms are:
- Fever at 100.4°F or higher
- Respiratory symptoms, like dry cough or shortness of breath
- Head ache
- Body ache
- Loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
Ensure everyone involved in the meeting plan is “low-risk”
Certain individuals are at a higher risk of being infected with illnesses like COVID 19. They are those who are 65 years old and above, living in a nursing home or long-term care arrangement, being immunocompromised, or having chronic lung disease issues, moderate to several asthma, a serious heart condition, diabetes, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, liver disease or severe obesity.
Review plans where such people are involved to avoid risks of exposing them to any infection that could compromise their health.
Ensure you can maintain social distancing during this meet-up
Wearing masks, maintaining your distance with at least six or more feet’s gap between everyone can help in minimizing the risk of spreading the infection.
Ensure to keep the number of people low
The more the people, the higher the chance of a transmission. So, keep the number of people in attendance low – set the maximum number at 10.
If you can ensure that these tips are kept in mind, you can go ahead with the meeting plan since the risk for all involved would be low.
If younger children are involved
However, if there are toddlers and children who cannot reliably social-distance involved in the meeting, make sure the elders have a good conversation about the rules. It’s relatively difficult to keep children away from the people they love, like their grandparents or friends, so make no exceptions in ensuring you follow the aforementioned tips during your meeting.
It would be best to consider setting strict no kiss no hug rules during these meetings. While it maybe harder to make children understand about it, the elders need to come to an understanding to keep everyone safe.
Facemasks are encouraged for children who are two years old and above, and keep in mind to follow thorough handwashing during these visits.
Questions to ask to ensure your meeting is safe
- Has anyone in the household been ill in the past two weeks?
- Has anyone in the household been exposed to anyone who has been sick in the past two weeks?
- Does anyone in the household have any comorbidities (high-risk health factors) that would put them at greater risk if they were infected with COVID-19?
- Has anyone in the household been in a group of 10 or more recently, putting them at higher risk of transmission?
The safest meetings would be the ones in which answers to all these questions is a “no”.
Be careful, always
That said, COVID 19 is extremely contagious. While we pull out all stops to make sure everything is favorable for our plans, we must understand that it Is likely that unforeseen circumstances like many people having it but not knowing it is a high possibility. And they could even spread it to people, who would show life-threatening symptoms.
So, be sure of the decisions you make and keep an eye out for the latest guidance from public health bodies like CDC.
Does that mean you shouldn’t be meeting people?
While some people may decide that they are not prepared to risk meeting other people until a vaccine is developed, which could take a while to develop, medical practitioners, recommend that people who want to meet their families must limit the number of people in a meeting. People should also keep away from participating in public gatherings, follow social distancing, wear face masks and follow healthy hygiene practices.
If you need expert guidance on whether you can go ahead with your plans, consult with your usual primary care provider for their opinion.