Winter is coming. As usual, the days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting colder. But this season, we're dealing with a situation we haven't seen before: COVID-19. With the coronavirus pandemic persisting and flu season arriving, the next few months could get ugly. Here's how to stay safe over the next few months.
Odds You Don't Want to Gamble On
It comes as no surprise that winter is going to be a tough time to weather during this pandemic. With brisker air and fewer hours of daylight, more people will be spending their time indoors. Unfortunately, the coronavirus transmits more easily in this environment.
On top of this, flu season is upon us. When coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, these respiratory infections have a good chance of overwhelming our immune and healthcare systems.
In an analysis of coronavirus cases from January to April 2020, Public Health England (PHE) found that people who became infected with both viruses had a substantially higher risk of severe illness. If that's not scary enough, the study also discovered that people with both the flu and COVID-19 are more than twice as likely to die than someone with only the coronavirus. To be more precise, the odds of death are 2.27 times higher.
How to Stay Safe In This Winter's "New Normal"
Thankfully, much of the general guidance for avoiding coronavirus is the same as what we've been practicing for months already: Sanitize your hands frequently, keep a distance of six feet from other people in public, and wear a face mask when that's not possible. It turns out that all of these measures are just as effective at preventing the flu as they are at stymying the spread of the coronavirus.
With that said, here are a few other tips and principles you should apply if you're worried about this upcoming winter:
Get Your Flu Shot
Many health experts have said that this year's flu vaccine may be the most important one you ever get. In fact, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that you get your flu shot by the end of October.
This will drastically decrease your chances of getting the flu. And that means it also lowers the possibility of getting both the coronavirus and the flu. On top of this, it also means that your healthcare system will have one less infectious respiratory illness to contend with.
Obesity is a risk factor that can lead to more severe outcomes when it comes to respiratory viruses. So practice healthy habits. Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, and strive to eat healthy meals. Unless your doctor has instructed you to take vitamins, you probably don't need them — all the nutrients your immune system requires should be in the food you consume.
It's also important to take care of your psychological and emotional well-being. Times are tough right now. So take extra steps to reduce your stress. It can make a monumental difference.
Stay Warm Outside
Keep Wearing Face Mask Protection Around Others
Taking a Chance With Travel? Cut Down Other Exposure Risks
For instance, pretend you've decided to fly out to visit your family for Thanksgiving. Then don't double down on your risk by dining in an indoor restaurant or attending sporting events during this time. You've chosen your risk; don't increase the probability that you'll expose yourself or your loved ones to an increased likelihood of coming down with the coronavirus or flu.
Hang In There
We know that these last 6 months of the pandemic have been tough. Each of us has lived through business closures, upheavals to our work lives, travel restrictions, mask mandates, and too many other events to mention in this short time span. But we must continue to take extra safety precautions. It's the only way we can make it back to a life that resembles normalcy.
Hang in there. We know things have been difficult. But we also know that we can get through this together. Keep wearing face masks, washing your hands, and social distancing. Together, we'll put this pandemic behind us.
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