As more local families return to life after quarantine and new data shows a spike in COVID cases as more businesses reopen,  doctors are urging families to step out safely this summer by following new habits and new behaviors.

After all, life as we know it has changed and when we go out in public, no matter if it’s the beach, a pool, a restaurant or a hair salon, we must alter our behavior if we want to stay healthy. And, according to new data New data collected by the CDC COVID Tracker, there has been an increase in coronavirus cases in nearly half the country over the last few weeks. 

New research published by a University of Massachusetts immunologist reveals it takes 1,000 particles of the COVID-19 virus to get infected. A cough or sneeze from an infected person can produce 200 million particles. And when someone speaks, they exhale 200 particles per minute, so just talking with someone for five minutes can infect you.

“We cannot deny how the COVID-19 pandemic changed our way of life,” said Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer of American Family Care.

“We are more germ conscious than ever, as we wash our hands constantly, wear masks while running errands, and limit how many people we allow at family gatherings,” Dr. Barlow said. “But you need to take it a step further and follow these new, behavior guidelines when you resume summer activities in public.”

So medical providers with American Family Care (AFC), a national healthcare network with a local clinic, are advising the public through their education campaign “New Habits of the New Normal” on alternate ways resume the types of activities that were considered “safe” a few months ago:

Want to make a splash?  The summer heat is on.  Heading to the closest beach or swimming pool seems like an easy way to cool off, but are you putting yourself at risk for COVID? 

•According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, evidence suggests COVID-19 cannot be spread through most recreational water. Chlorine in pools should inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

•You do need to stay six feet away from others, in water and on land.  

•Try going out at times when crowds are not as big.  Some beaches are marking off spots to set up six feet apart, while community pools are using a sign-up sheet to reserve a time to swim. 

•If you want to rent a condo or hotel room at the beach, keep in mind your risk exposure is higher in common areas like the lobby, restaurant or an elevator. 

•Wear a mask and practice social distancing. Bring disinfecting wipes to use on common surfaces like a tv remote and light switches, faucets in a hotel room or condo rental.

Having a Summer Bash? We’ve gone months without any social activity outside of the home. Is having a cookout or family party a wise choice?

•Make it BYO (bring your own) EVERYTHING, food, drinks, cups, utensils.  Food is not a high risk to spreading the virus but touching shared dishes can be.

•Limit your get-together to a small number of people, once you are around others, spread out, and practice social distancing.

Eating out? You’ve been confined to eating practically every meal in your house, so who wouldn’t want to sit down and let someone cook for you?

•Choose to sit outside at a restaurant. COVID can spread easier in an enclosed space.

•Survey the restaurant to make sure people sit six feet apart, the wait staff wears masks and you get a disposable menu.

•Keep in mind, someone probably sat at the table before you and probably touched everything. Wash your hands before you eat! And if you’re not comfortable, order take-out.

Returning to the office?  Depending on your set-up at work, your boss might rotate staff through the office during the week. 

•Skip public transportation. Limit your exposure to others by either driving yourself, walking or riding your bike to work.

•Bring your mask and wear it, especially if you join others in a conference room.

•Avoid touching things with your bare hand. Use a paper towel or tissue when opening doors or turning knobs. 

Getting a fresh, new post-quarantine look?  At hair or nail salons, you put yourself at higher risk, because stylists and technicians must get closer than six feet to cut your hair or polish your nails.

•Make sure salon workers are screening each client, asking questions about exposure to COVID-19 or symptoms.

•Check that salon workers wear masks and gloves and disinfect between customers.

•If you arrive at a salon to find a packed waiting room, go outside until your appointment begins.

Hitting the gym? If your quarantine diet choices caused you to pack on a few extra pounds, you probably want to hit the gym to work it off.

•Remember you’re entering a potential germ-zone where people share equipment and sweat a lot.

•Keep your distance. Use a treadmill that is at least two to three away from the next one.

Wipe down any equipment, including weights — before-and-after you use it.

Going to a doctor’s appointment? We know many people have put off visits to health care providers and are starting to return.

•Be mindful of others while sitting in a waiting room.   Avoid picking up a magazine or a tissue box — anything that another patient might have touched.

•Go solo. Keep your significant other or kids at home.  This way, you will not expose anyone other than yourself.

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