As the pandemic continues to change the way everyone in the world lives, works, and travels in 2021 we understand that it may be confusing to figure out the best ways to live with COVID-19 in our communities.
So, what does it mean to live with COVID-19 in our community?
What It Means
We expect that in the near future there will continue to be COVID-19 in the community. As long as the spread is slow and the numbers of hospitalized patients low we can carry on our lives almost as normal.
Public Health is constantly reviewing and revising the COVID 19 response to ensure that the community remains safe. Life can continue largely the same but will require action of safe practices by all as we learn to live with the reality of COVID 19.
An important part of living in a community like this is managing your own risk – this means having purposeful conversations with the people you live with on a variety of scenarios such as determining together which activities you think are minimal risk and you’d like to do.
For example, as a household you may decide that an event is minimal risk and worth attending while another larger event is not. You may also choose to limit the number of gatherings you attend in any given week to reduce risk.
What To Do
There are several ways everyone can reduce the spread of COVID-19. These include:
- Social Distancing: In indoor public places and where required by law, stay six feet away from anyone outside of your household.
- Masks: Wear masks or face coverings indoors in public places, and where you don’t think you can socially distance. You can remove masks if you are sitting, quietly or eating/drinking.
- Frequent Hand Washing: The best defense against any virus is frequently washing hands. If you cannot wash your hands, you can use hand sanitiser until you can get to a sink with soap. You should do this when entering or exiting a room/office space, before eating or drinking, after you touch high-touch surfaces like elevator buttons or door handles.
Managing The Risk
We can all be purposeful in the type of interactions, outings, and events we choose to attend.
Some people may choose, and with their employers agreement, to work from home more often to improve physical spacing in the office. Some people may choose to reduce the number of events or extracurricular activities they take part in to reduce their risk.
It is important that you determine your own comfort level concerning COVID-19 in the community.
Ask yourself these questions when thinking about the risk of any activity in the community:
- What is the infection rate in the community? You can calculate today’s infection rate by taking the number of positive cases and divide this by the number of tests done today on our latest figures page
- Are you or somebody in your household in a high risk group? If you're at risk of more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 or live with somebody who is high risk the risk is much lower if you stay home as much as possible and socialize with only a small and consistent group of people.
- Is the activity inside or outside? If the activity is outdoors, well ventilated, and socially distanced then it is lower risk.
- Will you be able to follow social distancing and frequently wash your hands? If not, consider if it is worth the risk and carry a personal sanitizer for your use.
- Are there many people or few? The less people there are the lower the risk.
- Will you have long or short interactions with others? The shorter the interactions the lower the risk.
- Will you use public transport? Using public transport is a higher risk.
- Will you be in contact with high-touch surfaces and unable to sanitise? Frequently touched surfaces like elevator buttons and hand rails are higher risk.
- Will people at the event be wearing a mask or face covering? If people are wearing face masks or coverings then the risk is lower.
- Is the business following prevention measures? When staff are wearing masks, frequent hand washing or santising is encouraged, and social distancing rules are followed in businesses then there is a lower risk.
Managing Your Mental Health
We know that physical space, new rules, and an uncertain future all have a large impact on our mental wellbeing and ability to cope. Remember that it’s okay to not be okay. Caring professionals are here for you. Call 1-800-534-6463 (MIND) Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm to talk to our Mental Health Hotline.