Between stay-at-home orders and social distancing, it may feel like the entire world has shut down for COVID-19. Your favorite restaurant has closed, you can’t go shopping as much as you’d like, and your social contact has been limited to phone calls and video chats. If you have questions about what you can do safely, you’re not alone. Many people are wondering what in their daily routines has to change in order to stay healthy right now. Here, we answer the most common lifestyle questions surrounding COVID-19.
Is it safe to get food delivered or from a drive-thru?
Many restaurants and food delivery services are taking extra precautions and offering no-contact delivery to ensure you’re maintaining distance. To reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure when ordering food, you can request your delivery person leave your order outside the door and text you when they arrive. If you have bleach wipes, consider washing down any plastic containers or food coverings. Wash your hands after unpacking your food and discard the bag. You can take extra precaution at drive-thrus by wearing gloves when handling your order or disinfecting your hands immediately after receiving it. You may also consider using contactless payment like Apple pay or Google pay to avoid passing your credit card to the cashier. This is also a great way to support your favorite restaurants and food establishments amid closures, layoffs, and slow business.
Is it safe to go swimming?
According to the CDC, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread to humans through the use of pools, hot tubs, or spas. In fact, proper amounts of pool chemicals like chlorine should kill the virus that causes COVID-19. That being said, community pools and gyms should be avoided while practicing social distancing. Personal pools, however, should not pose any risk if nearby surfaces are disinfected regularly and proper hygiene is practiced. As for ocean or lake swimming, while there is some concern about coronavirus in natural bodies of water due to sewage contaminants, there is little information to support transmission of the virus in water. Public health officials are currently more concerned about crowded beaches and their public utilities. If you do go to the beach, it’s important to maintain social distancing.
Can I still go to the dentist?
If you have a teeth cleaning scheduled soon, chances are you may need to reschedule. The CDC and the American Dental Association have recommended dental facilities postpone elective procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent dental visits and prioritize emergency visits for the coming weeks. This is because routine dental practices which include close, physical contact, as well as fluid-spraying tools, now pose both a risk to patients and dental staff. It is also important for dentists to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) given recent shortages. If you aren’t sure if you should hold off on a procedure, contact your dentist to discuss your symptoms. If your dentist is still seeing patients, they have likely set up a safe process for screening and evaluating people.
Is it safe to get a haircut or manicure?
While self-care is a vital part of your physical and mental health, it’s important to practice social distancing at this time. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any non-medical service where you cannot keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. That means postponing appointments at the salon and barber shop. But just because you don’t have access to a professional stylist, however, doesn’t mean you have to let your personal hygiene fall by the wayside. There are several resources online for at-home haircuts, as well as DIY manicures, that don’t require any training. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting your hair yourself, ask your roommates or family for help or let your locks grow!
Should I wait to get pregnant?
Currently, it is not known whether COVID-19 can be passed from mother to baby or what developmental impact the virus may have. While there may be no medical reason to modify your plans, there are several factors to consider if you decide to try to conceive. Given it is not known how long the pandemic will last, for instance, healthcare systems may experience staffing shortages or require safety measures to delay or postpone routine prenatal and postnatal care. Additionally, social distancing may interfere with traditional birth celebrations and visits from family members. It may also mean a lack of help in the first few weeks as a new parent. Ultimately the decision is a personal one that should be made between you, your partner, and your healthcare provider.
What should I do if I need to take my pet to the vet?
While some veterinary offices have closed for the time being, many have adapted their standard of work to safely treat your pets under social distancing orders. We recommend first calling your vet to see if they’re able to help you over the phone and determine whether you should bring your pet in for a visit. Most offices have set up precautions to protect both you and their staff, including curbside animal pick up and drop off. Some offices are even offering telemedicine options.
Should I avoid the laundromat?
If you normally rely on your apartment’s communal laundry room or a public laundromat, you may be worried about exposure to COVID-19. The good news is there are several ways to reduce that risk. Try going to the laundromat at night or during less trafficked times. You may even consider calling the laundromat and asking about their slower hours if they do not already have a system in place. While there, try your best to practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet away from others. If you can, wear gloves and a mask while inside and waiting outside or in your car between loads. You should also sort through dirty laundry and fold dry clothes at home in order to minimize your contact with several surfaces. Once home, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. You can also follow the same practices if your apartment has a communal laundry room. If your building doesn’t have a system in place, you may even consider developing a rotating schedule for you and your fellow residents. If you would prefer to avoid these facilities altogether, most machine washable items can be hand washed in your bathroom or kitchen sink following instructions on the label.
Is it safe to adopt pets right now?
Per the Humane Society, now is a great time to adopt or foster a pet as shelters are limited in volunteers and practicing social distancing. This is also a great way to spend your time while self-isolating or stuck at home. Keep in mind, however, that although there is no evidence that animals can transmit the virus to people, some pets have tested positive for COVID-19 after close contact with infected humans. It is still recommended that people who are sick limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. If you must care for a pet while you are sick, make sure to wear a face mask and wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet. It is also important to remember that caring for a pet is a long-term commitment so make sure this is something you can commit to beyond shelter-in-place orders and quarantine.
Should I wait to go to the gynecologist? Get my pap smear?
If you have an upcoming pap smear on your calendar, you may be asked to wait for the time being. While many medical offices are deferring non-essential visits at this time, it’s important to check with your provider to see if this is something that can be safely deferred. If you do need to be seen, many offices (like ours!) have set up safe screening and scheduling processes to allow for patients to continue receiving essential care.
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. The One Medical Group entities and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.