As our country “reopens” after two months of isolation, we are all left wondering, what is safe to do and what is not? Our firm represents thousands of individuals who have significant medical issues, including compromised immune systems. Our clients need to be even more concerned than the general public about moving forward. We want you to be safe before you jump into socializing, here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself and your family:
- It’s all about proximity (space between people), activity and time. The disease is spread through respiratory droplets which we all breathe out when we talk, sing, cough, or sneeze. If you are physically close (less than six feet away) to an infected person, and/or you are in an indoor space with them for several hours or more, you are likely to get the disease. Even “brief” hugs are dangerous.
- Anyone who has the following: a fever or 100.4 or higher, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, should call their healthcare provider. Don’t go to the emergency room unless you are having trouble breathing. Most people will recover just fine at home.
- If you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you can ask your healthcare provider where you can have a test. Some people can have the disease without having any symptoms.
- Those who have had the virus should not leave their home until it’s been 10 days since their first symptoms appeared, they haven’t had a fever for three days (without using medicine to reduce fevers), and their cough and shortness of breath have improved. They should also talk to their doctor.
If you’ve been following the guidelines for sheltering at home, getting your groceries and other goods delivered, and you have family members and friends who have done the same, then it is safe to start to socialize and be out in the community, with caution:
- Don’t gather with people if you are not sure they have been self-isolating. Wear a face mask in public places, and stay six feet away from others.
- Try to meet your friends and family members outdoors and wear masks. If you are going to eat and drink (which is a challenge if you’re wearing a face mask), stay six feet apart; bring your own food, drinks and utensils; and wash or sanitize your hands frequently. At a park or the beach, keep to your own group and stay six feet away from any other gatherings.
- If you have to use public transportation, try to maintain the six-foot rule and wear a mask. You can always carry sanitizing wipes if you are concerned surfaces might not have been cleaned properly — like the handles on those grocery store carts.
- Minimize your risk by choosing activities that are important to you: do you want a haircut or do you want to eat out? Choose one because the more situations you put yourself in, the greater risk of being near someone who has the disease. If your choice is the latter, take-out or outdoor restaurants with widely-spaced tables are best.
- Keep an eye on the news: if the cases in your area are rising significantly, then it’s time for you to step back and possibly stay home awhile longer. It’s also even more important to wear a mask, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and wash or sanitize hands frequently to reduce the spread of infection.
Currently, there’s no vaccine or specific treatment for this disease, and it is very dangerous for people who have other conditions such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, or an immune- deficiency disease such as lupus or multiple sclerosis, as many of our clients have. Be wary of at-home tests or treatments. There are a number of scammers out there who are happy to take your money. For reliable sources of information: the FDA has a consumer hotline, 1-888-INFO-FDA, or go to www2.erie.gov. Stay safe!
Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys, PLLC, has been serving clients with serious medical problems since 1983. Over the years we have helped more than 20,000 clients obtain Social Security Disability benefits. If you or someone you know is facing an uncertain future because physical or mental health issues (including symptoms from COVID-19) may prevent you from working, call 716-856-7091, 800-343-8537, or visit www.jeffreyfreedman.com.