By Katie McCallum
There’s no denying it, coronavirus cases are rising in the Greater Houston area once again. The trend began about a month ago, just after Memorial Day weekend.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, our community was united in its response to this virus. We were staying home. We were social distancing. We were wearing masks. We were monitoring our symptoms and not just assuming coughs and sore throats were allergies. These unified efforts resulted in Houston “lowering the curve” sooner than many other large cities — giving us the flexibility to slowly reopen businesses and restaurants in early May.
But, reopening the city didn’t (and doesn’t) mean that we’re done with COVID-19. The new coronavirus is still among us, and, right now, warning signs are flashing in Houston.
Sooner rather later, we must reunite as a community and recommit to the extra precautions that helped us lower the curve at the beginning of this pandemic. In addition to staying up-to-date on the daily new COVID-19 cases in the Greater Houston area, here are three things to know as cases rise.
Social distancing is still a must
We’re all adjusting to the enormous challenge of social distancing. As social creatures, there’s nothing like a pandemic to remind us how much we crave and need social interaction.
Let’s face it, social distancing is hard — really, really hard. Fortunately, though, it’s also very effective, and there are good reasons you should still be taking social distancing seriously.
Plus, social distancing doesn’t have to mean being socially isolated. It might take flipping your mindset about the definition of socializing and getting creative with how you interact with others, but there are ways to safely “socialize” during a pandemic, including:
- Using digital tools to stay connected
- Making your happy hours virtual
- Playing multiplayer video games with voice chat
- Picking up your phone and calling a friend or loved one
- Getting outdoors and spreading out (way out)
Social distancing requires rethinking birthday parties, family gatherings, holiday celebrations and summer vacations — even just your everyday nights and weekends. But social distancing is worth it — no matter inconvenient it may seem.
Wear cloth masks in public spaces
Public health officials continue to warn that both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals are able to spread COVID-19. This means that you could be contagious and not know it, and inadvertently spread COVID-19 to anyone you come into close contact with — which is about two arm lengths, by the way.
A cloth face mask acts as a physical barrier that can help contain any infectious respiratory droplets you may release while coughing, speaking or breathing. The CDC recommends wearing a mask while in a public setting where social distancing is difficult, including stores and gas stations.
Think of wearing cloth masks as a new social contract between you and everyone within your community. While your cloth mask may not protect you, it may protect others around you — including those who are more likely to be hospitalized due to COVID-19.
If you’ve already been diligently wearing a mask while in public the last few months, you may have some logistical questions. Knowing how to wear, wash and store your mask is important, as well as when exactly you should be wearing it.
Know the symptoms and when to get screened
COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, and many COVID-19 symptoms overlap with other common respiratory illnesses. It’s important to know the symptoms separating COVID-19 from a cold, the flu or even just allergies.
If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a board-certified care provider through Houston Methodist Virtual Urgent Care. Our providers are available 24/7 to help you determine if testing is needed, as well as advise you on where you should go. Simply download the MyMethodist app in the App Store or on Google Play, open the app, select a provider and begin your visit.
If you test positive for coronavirus, it will be important to self-quarantine and follow the care recommendations suggested by your health care provider throughout your recovery.
Concerned you may have COVID-19?
- If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a Virtual Urgent Care provider 24/7. The provider will help you determine if testing is needed and advise you on where you should go.