Advice for living life in the ‘new normal’

Infectious disease specialist: Wear face masks, wash hands, avoid crowds

A young man sits on a bench outdoors wearing a face mask and applying sanitizer in an illustration of life's new normal

Many states are opening back up after more than a month with several sectors of the economy closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, going to the grocery store or getting a haircut will be a much different experience than it was before. Some businesses have even started requiring customers to wear masks in their stores.

“By now, everyone should be wearing some sort of mask whenever they are out and about,” said Dr. Noe Mateo, an infectious disease specialist for Sanford Health in Bismarck, North Dakota. “So it’s going to feel weird when you go to the barber shop or the supermarket, but this is our new normal until there is a vaccine available for COVID-19.”

While some people will continue to limit their time in public places, Sanford Health wants to remind patients about the importance of keeping regularly scheduled health care appointments. Health care locations have put a number of measures in place to ensure the safety of patients and employees.

“We never shut our doors. We are always open,” said Fred Fridley, vice president of operations at Sanford Health in Bismarck. “People still need to seek health care. It’s important to have your regular check-ups with your providers and to continue to get lab work done and stay up-to-date on your vaccinations to ensure you are staying healthy.”

When care is delayed, the situation can become much worse.

“You need to take care of yourself,” Fridley said. “For example, if you have a bad hip or a bad knee and are stuck at home having a difficult time moving, we don’t want you to gain 30 pounds and develop diabetes because you aren’t able to move around and be active due to a bad joint. We want you to come in and take care of yourself. That’s what we’re here for.”

Keep social distancing

As the weather warms up, experts encourage spending time outside with your family while continuing to social distance.

“With summer coming along, it will be fairly easy for people to social distance,” Dr. Mateo said. “They can spend time outdoors, and as long as there’s a steady breeze, then you’re not likely to be breathing in viral particles. Breathing in those viral particles is a much greater risk when you’re indoors in a confined space.”

As businesses open back up, Dr. Mateo said we can’t forget what we’ve learned the past couple of months. Social distancing will continue to be very important.

“People should avoid large congregate settings with more than 10 people,” he said. “And frequent hand washing needs to become our new normal.”

Because there isn’t a vaccine available yet for COVID-19, Dr. Mateo said everyone needs to take responsibility and live life a little differently than we’re used to.

“We should remain as cautious and optimistic as to when a vaccine is going to come along,” he said. “The current estimate is that it could be available sometime in the middle of 2021, so that’s still easily a year away. It could become available sooner, but either way, we have to be prepared and continue to protect ourselves and others.”

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Posted In Bismarck, Coronavirus, Healthy Living, Wellness

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