After months of pandemic lockdown, is there anything better than seeing dearly missed friends and family, or simply soaking up the sun at your local park?
Our need for connection is understandable, and returning to the familiar is an important boost to our mental wellness. But as public health restrictions loosen, nurses have a simple message for the public: don’t mess it up.
It is crucial to continue following public health guidelines closely as we reopen – for all our sakes. As of mid-July, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada is close to 108,500, and a staggering 18 to 24 per cent of those infections are health care workers. About 8,800 people in Canada have died from COVID-19.
Health workers know all too well that a deadly second wave of this pandemic could be just around the corner. We will be on the front lines caring for patients, often at personal risk, but the public has an important role to play. We must all do our utmost to limit the potential spread of this illness by following the public health recommendations in our region. It all comes down to the choices we make in the coming months.
Here are nurses’ top recommendations for staying safe during reopening.
Stay two meters apart. Maintain the recommended size of your bubble and know who is in it. For everyone else, stay two meters (six feet) apart, indoors and outdoors.
Wear a mask. Health workers wear masks for long hours to keep patients safe, so the least we can do is wear one when we can’t stay two meters apart.
Wash your hands. Do it thoroughly and use soap and water, or alcohol-based sanitizer if soap isn’t available. While you’re at it, sanitize high traffic surfaces like door handles.
Limit exposure. You no longer have to keep outings to the essentials, but work from home if you can and use discretion to limit travel and opportunities for exposure.
Self-isolate. This should go without saying, but if you travel internationally or if you feel ill, stay home and away from others. Enough said.
Stay connected. This pandemic has been hard on everyone, and it’s ok to feel down. Stay connected with the people that matter to you and make time to enjoy being outside while the weather is warm. Your mental health matters too.
Listen to experts. We’re constantly learning new things about this virus, so it’s extremely important to get your information from reliable sources, not opinion or speculation. Play it safe, and stick to advice from health experts and scientists.
Stay civil. This is a challenging time, but we all have a responsibility to do our best to follow recommended safety measures, and to remain civil and respectful towards workers and others.
We have heard some of these recommendations many times over the past few months, but they are still crucially important. It is up to all of us to protect our frontline workers, families and communities by remaining vigilant in our prevention efforts. It is no exaggeration to say that lives depend on the choices we make.
In unwavering solidarity,
President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions