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States are reopening. Now what?

With summer just about here, every state in the country is in some stage of reopening. From bars and restaurants to beaches and summer camps, we’re all trying to figure out what comes next.

But coronavirus hasn’t gone anywhere. There’s no vaccine and the number of cases in Florida and Texas (where our members live) jumped in the first week of June. And the older you are, the more dangerous the virus is for you, more so if you have chronic health conditions. 

To make it even more confusing, the rules seem to vary by state (or county!). So how do you know what’s safe? Let’s take a look at what we know for sure and how you can think about these next steps.

Reopening doesn’t mean we’re in the clear.

States are under a lot of pressure to reopen. But that pressure is often economic, not because it’s best for public health. 

So a store or hair salon reopening doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe to go. It’s more like we’re experimenting with how to get back to some sense of normal. 

You might notice that things are changing with your doctors too. Most will continue to offer telehealth visits, but some may also open up their offices. Be sure not to skip any appointments, and check in with your doctor to see what’s safest for you.

Older adults have a different set of rules.

It’s not fair, but this virus is much worse the older you are. That’s why the experts say older adults still need to be very careful, including staying home to stay safe.

So even with reopening, the rules we’ve had all along still hold for you:

  • Keep at least 6 feet of social distancing
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Stay home as much as possible 
  • Wear a mask when you’re out and about
  • Stay home if you’re sick

Corona cabin fever is real. 

And it gets harder by the day. We know. We’ve got it too. We still urge you to stay home, exercise daily, and connect virtually or at a distance.

But you have to take care of your mental and emotional well-being. So if you’re tempted to push the rules a little bit, here are some ideas on how to do that safely.

Outside is better than inside. If you want to see someone, meet at a park, in your yard, in a driveway, or on a patio. Meeting outside is less risky because you have better airflow, more space to keep your distance, and direct sunlight.

Distance is still the key. It’s hard to get our heads around, but even with reopening, social distancing rules haven’t changed. Keep at least 6 feet from others.

The fewer people, the better. The more people at a gathering, the harder it is to stay 6 feet away. Plus, each of those people has had contact with others who may have the virus. And not everyone follows the same rules. So, friends at a distance in your driveway? Great. A cocktail party in your living room? No go. Think 10 people max, but really, fewer.

Wearing a mask matters. A mask or other face covering is an act of kindness. It protects the people around you by limiting the number of droplets coming from your mouth. Wear one outside the house.

BYOE (bring your own everything). If you’re going to have a gathering with food or drinks, have each household bring their own food, drink, utensils, plates, and cups. And avoid sharing. It’s less fun that way, but much safer.

Drinking has a way of reducing social distance. A drink with friends can be one of life’s great pleasures. But alcohol also affects judgment, making you more prone to bouts of “Eh, 3 feet’s probably good enough.” So just keep that in mind.

Pay attention to what’s happening in your area. Maybe reopening goes smoothly. More likely, we’ll see spikes in new cases in some areas. So remember that you’re at greater risk just because you’re older, let alone any health conditions you might have. If the outbreak worsens near you, tighten down on the rules again.