Here are their tips for staying safe and coronavirus free this fall.
How to deal with your daily life
The autumn chill might cause people to rethink where they congregate, but outdoor hangouts are even safer than indoor ones (except for large, crowded events that leave no room for social distancing).
There’s more room to spread and a steady flow of air, so even if it’s getting colder, people should still limit their interactions indoors, said Dr. David Aronoff, director of the Vanderbilt’s infectious disease division. University Medical Center and professor of medicine.
But before you go anywhere:
Stay warm outside. Investing in ways to keep meetings outdoors, even in cold weather, whether it’s a fire pit, a warm coat, or a heat lamp, suggests Dr. Leana Wen, emergency room physician and visiting professor at Milken. George Washington University’s Institute of Public Health. This keeps meetings in a safer place and also helps prevent social isolation.
But you should definitely wear a mask around others. But if you’re outdoors in a crowded area or on streets where strangers are hard to avoid, wear a mask, Aronoff said. Cloth masks prevent you from exhaling the virus if you’re asymptomatic, he said, and can prevent the virus from “silent transmission.”
How to celebrate the autumn holidays
The pandemic will surely complicate the celebration of holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, which all revolve around the community and family.
“We now know that much of the spread of Covid-19 is actually driven not by formal contexts with strangers, but by informal gatherings of family and friends,” said Wen. “Some people may let their guard down with loved ones.”
It is tempting to avoid Covid-19 prevention tips to reunite loved ones on those days, but holidays shouldn’t be considered exceptions, Aronoff said: the virus won’t stop infecting people in those days.
The virus that causes Covid-19, he said, “is capable of being passed on whenever people get together.
“I think people have to take these holidays very seriously. This is not going to be a season where we can be together like we used to.”
If you run the risk of traveling, reduce your exposure. Some may be willing to risk coronavirus transmission to see their loved ones, Wen said. But making that decision requires reducing the cumulative risk, he said.
Create alternative vacation plans. Trick-or-treat or gathering for a common meal carry additional risks during the pandemic. Aronoff suggested trading them for less risky fun.
How to vote
Both Wen and Aronoff agreed that the vote is essential, even during a pandemic, and should not be skipped. Whether you are voting before or on November 3, it is possible to limit your exposure to Covid-19 at the polls.
If you vote in person, vote early. Early voting dates and times vary by state, but polling stations are typically less crowded before election day.
Find out your polling station if you vote in person. Learn as much as you can about your polling station before you go, Wen said. What precautions are the survey workers taking? How much time will you have to spend indoors when you are there?
Bring the essentials. When you go to vote in person, Wen said, wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer, and be aware of what you touch and how far you are from others.
How to fight pandemic fatigue
But we have to keep taking the precautions we know work, or we will continue to live like this for much longer, Aronoff said.
“We are all tired of Covid-19, which is certainly a predictable effect of a horrific pandemic that seems to keep going on,” he said. “But we’re not out of the way yet … and it’s up to us, in the absence of a vaccine, to continue doing our part to protect each other from this potentially fatal virus.”
Wen likens it to drinking and driving without serious accidents. Just because you don’t end up getting hurt or arrested doesn’t mean those behaviors are sustainable or safe – and the same goes for people who scoff at the requirements of masks or social distancing guidelines.
“It’s possible someone could get lucky multiple times,” he said.
But the more often someone engages in risky behavior, the more likely they are to get sick with coronavirus.