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As more businesses begin to re-open, federal health officials have released new guidelines for keeping safe from COVID-19 at places like restaurants, cookouts, gyms, hotels and large events.
“I know that people are eager to return to normal activities and ways of life, however it’s important that we remember this situation is unprecedented and the pandemic has not ended,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, M.D., said during a briefing Friday.
As he spoke, there were more than 2 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 114,000 deaths, figures that are continuing to rise, albeit more slowly than earlier this spring.
The CDC recommends that as people begin to venture out in their communities, they consider how many people they’ll interact with, whether they can maintain a space of 6 feet between them and how long they’ll be interacting with people.
Social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing face coverings in public continue to be the main ways to reduce the spread of the virus. The new guidance also recommends site-specific steps in addition to these. For instance, restaurant patrons also should check that staff are wearing masks, make sure tables are spread out, and outdoor seating is available.
Likewise, at cookouts, stay outside if possible and encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks. At gyms, avoid group training sessions when possible, and don’t use equipment that can’t be cleaned between each user. In hotels, look for online checking-in and payment options, ask about policies for disinfecting facilities and minimize the use of common areas including elevators, pools, and dining areas. The guidance for going out in the community is available at https://bit.ly/3fk89dA, and guidance for events and gatherings is at https://bit.ly/2XTFqGJ.
Most people have been taking recommendations from health officials seriously, according to a new survey of more than 4,000 adults conducted in May and published Friday by the CDC.
About 80% of respondents said they support stay-at-home orders and closing non-essential businesses. The same percentage said they have been keeping 6 feet away from others. Roughly 77% said they have been self-isolating, and 74% often or always wear face coverings in public.
“The article underscores the fact that American people have taken mitigation efforts seriously to prevent the spread of SARS coronavirus 2, and it demonstrates our country’s collective spirit in responding to the pandemic,” said Jay C. Butler, M.D., the CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases and COVID-19 response incident manager.
He acknowledged some states have seen spikes in cases in recent weeks and said these can be due to a variety of factors including increased testing, outbreaks in settings like nursing homes, increased community transmission, or a combination of these. He said the CDC is monitoring the cases.
“If cases begin to go up again, particularly if they go up dramatically it’s important to recognize that more significant mitigation efforts like what was implemented back in March may be needed again,” Dr. Butler said. That is a decision that really needs to be made locally based on what is happening within the community regarding disease transmission.”