Several months into the coronavirus pandemic, it can be tempting to ease up on some of the efforts you’ve been making to stay safe and healthy. (After all, wearing a mask in the summer heat isn’t exactly comfortable.)
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But now is not the time to let up. Since states have reopened, many are seeing COVID-19 numbers surge, especially among younger people.
“The virus is here to stay for the foreseeable future,” says Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tomislav Mihaljevic, MD. “We do not have a cure or a vaccine, so we have to learn to live with the virus in our communities.”
This means accepting coronavirus safety measures as part of our lives for the immediate future. These measures are the same ones you’ve been hearing all along — avoiding large gatherings, practicing good hand hygiene, and masking up and keeping distance from others in public places.
Though you might be tired of hearing about them, these steps are just as important now as ever. And for them to be effective, we need to be vigilant about doing all of them all of the time.
It takes everyone
Even in a pandemic that spans most of the globe, your individual choices and actions can make a difference — both for yourself and for others.
“One challenge of the pandemic is that, in order for us individually to stay safe and healthy, the people around us have to be very cautious,” Dr. Mihaljevic says. “We collectively have to take responsibility for the health of our communities.”
Masking is an important part of this. Recent studies have provided more evidence that universal mask-wearing can help reduce the spread COVID-19.
But masks are just part of the strategy. It’s also important to be cautious about spending time with others outside of your household and avoid large group gatherings — especially in indoor spaces that do not have good ventilation.
Knowledge, innovation and progress
If all your summer plans have been canceled and you’ve spent a lot of time at home over the last few months, you might feel like the world is standing still.
But it’s not. All across the world, medical experts are working together day in and day out to develop a vaccine and discover potential treatments for COVID-19 – and they’re making progress.
“We’ve never seen this much energy and focus in medical research around a single threat to public health,” Dr. Mihaljevic says.
Healthcare providers have also learned a lot since the early days of the pandemic. They’ve learned about new symptoms, from inflammation of the blood vessels to COVID toes. “COVID-19 infection affects the entire body,” he explains. This new knowledge has helped healthcare providers better prepare for and care for patients who have COVID-19.
While it’s not clear how long the pandemic will last, we accept this ambiguity knowing that many people are working hard to fight the pandemic, Dr. Mihaljevic says.
The rest of us, too, should continue our efforts to contain this virus and make our communities safe for everyone.