Learn the facts. Take action. Be prepared Social Distancing and Sheltering in Place…What are they and Why are they important?

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By Victoria Holt
Sponsored by: Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay
Coronavirus protection: social distancing and sheltering in place
The coronavirus pandemic is moving fast, and information has proliferated quickly as well. How to sort it all out? Look first to established governmental sources for accurate information. The Oregon Health Authority’s Coronavirus Update from March 17, 2020 is a great source of information on how to deal with coronavirus in Oregon. Here’s the link for that update:
Social distancing (keeping at least 6 feet away from other people) is at the heart of the OHA message. Strict and consistent social distancing will slow the spread of disease so that our health care system is not swamped by a sudden spike in cases, and more will survive. This is particularly important here on the coast, where we have limited health care resources.

Here are the important ways to maintain social distance to protect your health and that of others in our Nehalem Bay community.
DO:
·Stay 6 feet away from other people – no hand shakes, no hugs
·Work from home if you can, conduct meetings by video conference
·Call before you go to a store (Are they open? Do they have what you need?) and minimize trips
·When you are out, wipe down any surfaces before you come into contact with them
·Wash your hands thoroughly when you return
·Go outdoors for fresh air and exercise – walk your dog on the beach, go for a hike or bike ride
·Find new ways to keep in touch with friends and family – set up a chat group
·Check the source of any coronavirus information you find – look first to the CDC website (www.cdc.gov) and the Oregon Health Authority website (www.oregon.gov/oha).

DON’T:
·Get in a car, bus or train or other confined space with non-household members
·Go to stores during crowded times
·Go out at all if you are sick – avoid all contact with others
·Show up at your health care provider’s office unannounced – call first for instructions

Sheltering in place has become a recent addition to public health recommendations to slow coronavirus spread. For instance, in the San Francisco Bay area residents have been told to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible for the next three weeks. This is an expansion of social distancing, and may also be appropriate for our community members who are over 60 or have underlying medical conditions.
People who are sheltering in place stay at home and avoid even small social interactions. Going outdoors for exercise is still encouraged, as long as it is done alone or with close family, and a 6 foot distance is kept from all others. In the San Francisco Bay area older people and those with underlying health problems are being told to stay inside at all times except for health care visits, and to ask someone to shop for them.
Italy has been under a sheltering in place lockdown since March 9, 2020. We may be able to learn from Italians’ experience. A short video detailing what several Italians from across the country wish they had known about the epidemic before the lockdown, and what they want Americans to know now may be instructional. It was produced by The Atlantic magazine and may be found here! Worth viewing!

As the OHA notes, we are all in this together, and it’s not too late to act. The measures we all take today will determine how many people our hospitals can treat, how many lives they can save and how long the pandemic will last. The Nehalem Bay community has a strong history of mutual care and aid, and with that perspective and our actions now we can minimize the virus’ impact on us all.

Note about the author: A resident of Manzanita, Victoria Holt is a MPH (Master’s in Public Health) and PhD from University of Washington – both of these were in Epidemiology. Faculty member in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington for 26 years, retiring 3 years ago as Chair of the department.


Be Prepared….Not Scared!
Emergency Volunteer Corps of Nehalem Bay
Promoting a Culture of Preparedness!
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