Don’t let down your guard against COVID-19 during Labor Day weekend.
Cases spiked after the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays, so health experts are stressing the importance of containing the coronavirus during the coming holiday.
How can we contain the virus?
Latinos can wear a mask and care for it properly, avoid public places (or at least get together safely, familia), and know what to do if you’re exposed, according to our “Juntos, We Can Stop COVID-19” campaign.
“Labor Day is coming up, and we need to stress personal responsibility,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, CNBC reports. “We have to go into the fall with decreasing cases like we’re doing now. We can’t risk a lack of personal responsibility.”
Cases Are Down Since Spiking after Holidays
COVID-19 cases are down 38% and new hospitalizations are down 37% since they peaked in late July 2020, Giroir said. He praised public health policies for mask wearing, physical distancing, testing, and contact tracing.
But it wasn’t always like this.
A summer of U.S. COVID-19 outbreaks began after Memorial Day in May 2020. Cases continued to climb after the Fourth of July holiday.
“Americans love to travel, and people had pandemic fatigue,” said pediatrician Dr. David Rubin of PolicyLab, CNN reports. “There were lax restrictions around the use of masks [this summer]. All of it created a very hospitable environment for this virus to transmit.”
Texas is a good example of this.
The 39.7% Latino state reported 55,348 COVID-19 cases by May 24, the day before Memorial Day. Just 15 days later, the state total had rise to 75,616.
July the Fourth factored into an even steeper rise. On July 3, the Texas case total stood at 183,532. Fifteen days later, the total was 317,730, an increase of more than 134,000.
“Remembering these surges following holidays, and remembering that children are now in school statewide, should be impetus enough for us to take responsibility for our behavior, protect others and our communities, and stay safe this Labor Day,” said Dr. Robert Leverence of UT Health San Antonio, in a statement.
1. Wear a Mask and Care for it Properly
When you wear a mask for Labor Day, you protect your familia, friends, and others from getting sick.
Masks are scientifically proven to limit the spread of coronaviruses by catching the tiny water droplets we all make when we breathe, talk, or cough. Those droplets are too small to see. But they carry the coronavirus, which can land on someone else’s mouth, nose, or eyes.
Of course, it is important you wear a mask properly, over both your nose and mouth (not touching the outside of the mask or your face, but by removing it by untying it or lifting off the ear loops). Also, keep it dry while using, and wash it daily.
“For Labor Day, we must stay vigilant. We can’t just wear a mask in public. We have to wear a mask even with family or friends,” said Dr. Amelie Ramirez, leader of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. “The more community participation in wearing a mask, staying physically distant, and knowing what to do if we’re exposed, the more likely we can prevent COVID outbreaks this holiday weekend and maintain progress we’ve made to slow the spread.”
2. Avoid Public Places (or at Least Get Together Safely, Familia)
Labor Day, like any holiday, can bring out a desire to celebrate.
But COVID-19 can spread even in family get-togethers where members who aren’t part of a quarantine group or safe bubble attend and forego wearing masks.
The surest way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home. Avoid public places and indoor get-togethers as much as possible. This includes cookouts/carne asadas with family and friends who don’t live with you.
If you are going to get together with a small group of people outside your household, follow these safety infection prevention measures: wear a mask, wash your hands regularly, and maintain 6 feet physical distance between others, even family and friends. Stay outside. Bring your own food, and don’t share food. Keep chairs 6 feet apart.
As soon as anyone in your household returns home, ensure they wash their hands and mask.
Remember to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
“We use Labor Day as a way to take the day off, but unfortunately the virus doesn’t,” epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told CNN. “The more we travel, the more we interact with people, the more opportunities there are for exposure. It’s really best that we try to limit our movement as much as possible.”
3. Know What to Do if You’re Exposed
Labor Day weekend may see more people out and about.
This heightens the risk for exposure to COVID-19. Exposure is contact within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for 15 minutes. It also is providing care to someone who is infected. If you are exposed, you are at potential risk for developing and spreading the infection for 14 days after the exposure.
If you find out you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, stay home for 14 days.
Do not go to work, school, or public places or gatherings. You should also: avoid contact with or sharing items with household members; clean/disinfect phones, counters, doorknobs, etc.; wear a mask and stay physically distant for essential trips; and monitor twice daily for symptoms (fever, chills, cough, breathing difficulty, loss of taste/smell, etc.
Anyone who develops symptoms should get tested immediately and follow health care providers’ orders.
“Right now, this epidemic is driven by behavior,” said Dr. Brad Pollock of UC Davis Health Department of Public Health Sciences, in a statement. “It’s not a lack of tests or therapeutics. It’s behavior. We can slow COVID-19 if we all work together.”
Help Your Family and Friends Take Action to Slow the Spread of COVID-19!
Our communities need to be safe. It depends on all of us on Labor Day and beyond.
That’s why Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio launched the “Juntos, We Can Stop COVID-19” digital communication campaign to help Latino families and workers take action to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The #JuntosStopCovid campaign features culturally relevant fact sheets, infographics, and video role model stories to encourage Latinos to change their public health behaviors.
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