[Image description: The image shows a father kneeling to adjust his daughter's face mask while out in public.]
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly eight months ago, a lot has changed. You and your family have likely altered your daily life in both subtle and major ways. One challenge many have faced during this time is deciding when it’s safe to return to typical daily activities such as attending social events, going back to school, and traveling. While you'll want to adhere to your local community’s guidelines, we’ve gathered resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Amwell providers that can help you make some of these decisions.
Manage the risk
It’s important to understand that there is no way to ensure that there will be zero risk of infection. However, there are questions you can ask yourself to help manage the risk before going out in public.
Amwell Director of Psychological Services Lindsay Henderson says, “Don’t stop taking precautions. There will always be more you can do to be safe, but don’t forget all the ways you’ve already changed your life to reduce your risk.”
With that in mind, ask yourself these questions to make an informed decision before you go out:
- Is COVID-19 spreading in my community?
- How many people will I interact with?
- Will I be indoors or outdoors? Will I be able to stay six feet apart from others?
- How long will I interact with people?
- Am I at a higher risk for severe illness?
In general, outdoor activities where people are wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing are safer. If you are planning to go indoors, you may want to look for modified layouts and places with physical barriers such as plexiglass to help you keep your distance from others. You may also want to open up windows or doors to keep the air circulating if you are able.
Need to travel?
Here are some factors to consider:
- Short car trips with people in your household are less risky, though stopping for long periods of time or overnight lodging with others may increase your risk.
- Public transit is medium risk because you may be in close contact with others. However, wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer, and washing your hands as soon as you arrive at your destination may help lower your chances of contracting COVID-19. Here's additional guidance for protecting yourself on public transportation.
- Flights with layovers or multiple stops are higher risk, while a direct flight is medium to high risk.
To learn more about various travel risks, click here.
Do what works best for you and your family
Staying home is the most effective way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. However, that may not always be realistic guidance for every situation. Here are some additional tips from Lindsay Henderson, PsyD:
- Make thoughtful decisions as an individual and family. Everyone’s needs are different. See if you can weigh the risks and the benefits accordingly.
- Create a path forward that is sustainable for the long haul. Try to adapt to our new reality, and remember, there will be ups and downs.
- Plan ahead. Consider your greatest obstacles and find ways to manage those challenges before they come up. You may also want to decide what events or parameters could pose further challenges so you and your family can create a backup plan.
- Set boundaries with confidence. Remember, you can only control yourself. Do the best you can, try to leave out the criticism, and remember that everyone’s path forward will be different.
If you or a loved one needs support, doctors and therapists on Amwell are here to help.