As much as we would all like to wish COVID-19 away and for the pandemic to be over tomorrow, it will likely be with us until a vaccine is available – and that may not be widely available until well into next year. The best way to mitigate the damage that this virus can inflict is to follow the guidelines and best practices that can keep you safe. At Piedmont, we refer to them as the Three W’s; Wear a mask, Wash Your Hands, Watch Your Distance.
Wearing a mask dramatically reduces the risk of infecting others and being infected yourself. COVID-19 can spread asymptomatically, or before a person shows symptoms, through respiratory droplets produced while coughing, sneezing, and even talking or singing. Those droplets travel through the air, which is why we urge staying at least six feet apart from others, as well as using masks or face coverings.
Hand washing, and frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces, makes sure that you don’t pick up the virus and transmit it to yourself or others via touch.
Lastly, watching your distance means practicing social distancing and refraining from large gatherings where socially distancing from others is not possible. This ranks among the most difficult guidelines to follow as we are social creatures, but it is also the most important because this is how the virus spreads. Outdoor activities are recommended as respiratory particles disperse quickly and do not remain in the air for long. If you have to go inside, please be sure to wear a mask and practice good hand hygiene.
Taking preventative steps each day will bring us one day closer to the end of the pandemic. Until it is truly over, though, healthcare professionals around the world strongly encourage you to follow the behaviors that will keep you and your loved ones safe. Please, be smart: Wear a Mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance.
Neha Shah, M.D., is an infectious disease specialist with Piedmont Healthcare.