Following COVID-19 guidelines will help protect against virus

As the season changes from summer to fall, the number of new COVID-19 have increased. Dr. Kimberly Beck, the doctor for occupational and environmental medicine and Preventive Medicine Clinic at Andrew Rader U.S. Army Health Clinic, pointed out that the colder weather means more people will be indoors, which may contribute to the higher numbers of cases.

Beck said it’s important that people continue to wear cloth face coverings in public, wash their hands and continue to social distance and maintain 6 feet apart when in public. She added that it’s a big risk if people attend an indoor gathering with more people than allowed by local guideline, which for Virginia is 50 people. Attending indoor gatherings can put people at risk COVID-19. Remember to maintain 6 feet of distance from nonfamily members, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, wear masks when not eating or drinking and follow the state and local guidelines for the size of indoor gatherings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are increasingly adopting the use of cloth facemasks to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the latest science supports this practice.

“Wearing a cloth face coverings protects other people by stopping your respiratory droplets from landing on them or surfaces they might touch,” she said.

When planning holiday gatherings, remember to follow CDC guidelines.

“Are you able to maintain social distancing?” she asked. “Are you going to remove your mask to eat and drink? Are surfaces disinfected?”

“When people think small gathering, all you need is an asymptomatic person,” said Master Sgt. Brooke Eberly, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the U.S. Army Band’s team trace. “It doesn’t matter the amount of people.”

The CDC said individuals should be follow these guidelines.

Individuals should wear their mask correctly:

•           Individuals should wash their hands before putting on their mask

•           Put it over the nose and mouth and secure it under the chin

•           Individuals should try to fit it snugly against the sides of their face

•           Individuals should make sure they can breathe easily

•           CDC does not recommend use of masks or cloth masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent

Wear a mask to protect others:

•           Individuals should wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth to help protect others in case they’re infected with COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms

•           Wear a mask in public settings when around people who don’t live in the household, especially when it may be difficult for an individual to stay 6 feet apart

•           Wear a mask correctly for maximum protection

•           Don’t put the mask around the neck or up on the forehead

•           Don’t touch the mask, and, if an individual has to do that, he or she needs to wash his or her hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect

Follow everyday health habits:

•           Stay at least 6 feet away from others

•           Avoid contact with people who are sick

•           Individuals need to wash their hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds each time

•           Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

Pentagram Editor Catrina Francis can be reached at catrina.s.francis2.civ@mail.mil.