How to stay safe while heading back to work, school in new normal

Aug. 24, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera Health.

Things are certainly not back to a “normal” that we knew before COVID-19 came to our region. Yet many people are going back to work and back to school.

You might be wondering: How can I stay safer when out in the public or at work? How can I help my kids be safer at school?

Avera has created tool kits for individuals and families as well as businesses to help answer these questions.

In a nutshell, the answers lie in what has been emphasized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other national health organizations, physicians and health experts:

  • Maintain social distance. Limit in-person meetings by using online platforms. Avoid large crowds.
  • Wash hands often and use hand sanitizer.
  • Wear a mask when out in public.
  • Be diligent about cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

“Many businesses and school districts have reached out to Avera administrators and physicians seeking advice,” said Dr. Kevin Post, Avera Medical Group chief medical officer. “When requested, our physicians and leaders have offered our perspective.”

Health care consensus

While policies are up to each individual business or organization, Avera joins the CDC, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association in looking to the latest research. Those recommendations are reflected in Avera’s tool kits and include wearing a mask while out in public.

“Current research is showing that masks may reduce community transmission of the virus and prevent illness in healthy people. We also know that a fair percentage of people who have the virus do not show symptoms – yet they can pass the virus on to others,” Post said. “Masks are more effective if everyone wears them. They are also more effective when used with other measures such as hand hygiene and social distancing.”

Research-driven insight on masks

Many studies support masking, Post said.

“A case study in a Missouri hair salon showed that while stylists at the shop showed signs of COVID-19, no clients were infected. That was thanks to universal masking,” he said.

Masks work because COVID-19 is likely spread by speech droplets, even from people with no symptoms. They can stay remain airborne for up to 14 minutes.

“There also was a British study that showed if everyone wore a mask, COVID-19 transmission could be reduced to a controllable level,” Post said. “Like everyone, we want to do whatever we can to prevent further waves of the pandemic.”

Post reminds people that safe mask use is important.

“You should wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before you put on or take off the mask and avoid touching it as much as possible,” he said.

If you wear cloth masks, wash them with hot water and dry on a hot setting after each use.

“Schools and other group settings are prime locations for virus transmission, and we see this annually with colds and influenza,” Post added. “Wearing a mask, social distancing and other measures might make the difference that prevents someone else from becoming seriously ill or dying from this virus.”

To learn more, click here.

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How to stay safe while heading back to work, school in new normal

Wondering how to stay safer this year at school, work or out of your home? Avera has put together kits and advice to help.

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