How to Celebrate the Fourth of July During the Pandemic

With Fourth of July fast approaching and much of the country moving forward with Phase 4 of reopening the economy, many people understandably have a strong desire to be out of their homes and socializing.

While parks and friends’ backyards may be open to celebrate July 4, it’s still important to interact safely with others amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There still is a risk of infection with the COVID-19 virus when outside your home.

Along with lowering your risk for infection, remembering other safety tips for firework safety and avoiding heat exhaustion is also important for staying safe this holiday weekend.

Lowering COVID-19 Risk During July 4

When leaving your home to participate in social gatherings you should still maintain social distancing, face masking and hand hygiene.

Remember to keep your distance

Wherever you go this holiday weekend, remember that keeping six feet of distance between yourself and anyone who doesn’t live with you is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. This distance is how far most droplets containing the COVID-19 virus can travel before hitting the ground if someone is talking or sneezes, and maintaining it protects you from inhaling those droplets.

This precaution is especially important if you are indoors, but it’s important to maintain it outside, too. It’s also crucial if you’re around people whom you’re not sure have been properly protecting themselves.

Six feet seems like a big difference, but it’s not, groups of people can arrange themselves in a triangle around a central location to gather more safely.

Don’t forget your facemask

When you can’t keep 6 feet away from others, be sure to wear a face mask. Masks are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19, there has always been evidence that masks deter viral transmission.”

When out to eat or grab a drink on a patio, remember to keep your mask on until you get to your table, and if possible don’t take it off until after ordering from your server. “Wearing a face mask and maintaining social distancing are especially important now, as people are allowed to gather in small groups,” says Rush University Medical Center infectious disease expert Michael Lin, MD, in a recent health and wellness article on “We have seen that outbreaks tend to arise from gatherings where people are in close proximity indoors.”

Don’t let up on hand washing

Whether you are going out to eat or stopping by a friend’s home this holiday weekend, meticulous handwashing is still one of your greatest protectors against COVID-19. While you may be tired of singing handwashing songs and washing more than usual, hand hygiene is vital to getting rid of COVID-19 and other germs or bacteria that may be on your skin. Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer whenever possible while you are out of the house and when you get back home will add a layer of defense against COVID-19.

What about travel?

If your July 4 plans include travel, make sure you know what precautions are needed. Both flying and driving come with their own set of risks for infection and transmission.

Lisa Rosman, MD, a family physician at Rush University Medical Center, provided the latest information about travel so you can make informed decisions about any potential trips.

Rosman highlighted issues with flying, such as prolonged waiting time in airports, and precautions you should take while in an airport. They include wiping down surfaces and making sure the airline you are flying with is doing temperature checks.

Rosman also discusses driving being the safer alternative to flying — but be careful at rest stops and gas stations — and the risks of different travel locations and accommodations.

Stay hydrated and cool

With 2020 on track to be one of the hottest summers on record, staying cool and avoiding dehydration this holiday weekend may be a tougher task than usual.

Heat illnesses can occur when the body is not able to properly cool itself. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, it may not be enough to combat extreme heat.

Rush University Medical Center family medicine physician Kush Desai, MD, and emergency medicine physician Meeta Shah, MD, discussed the distinguishing factors of common heat-related illnesses and provide tips to help you stay cool and safe during the scorching summer months.

During this holiday weekend, make sure you are drinking enough fluids and staying cooled off throughout the day.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still celebrate the Fourth of July. If you make sure you are adhering to social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions, plus fireworks safety and staying hydrated, having a backyard barbecue or picnic at the park can be done safely, and an enjoyable summer weekend is still attainable.

Source: Rush University Medical Center

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