With coronavirus cases surging in states across the country, we are at a pivotal moment in our fight against the pandemic. Today, we know significantly more about the virus and how to prevent the spread than we did when the first wave hit earlier this year.
Back in the spring, communities were forced to resort to drastic measures and sweeping economic shutdowns as they searched for answers and unpacked medical data and recommendations in real time. Fast forward to today, and we have made significant progress in learning how to slow the spread and keep our local economies running while keeping Americans safe and healthy.
Now, it’s up to every one of us to make use of what we have learned, take preventative action, and help keep our loved ones healthy, our communities strong, and our local economies and businesses open. Here’s what we know works – and what we all must do to slow the spread.
Throughout the Path Forward series, we’ve heard from scientists and public health officials that it is important to wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, wash our hands, and get a flu shot. Each one of these steps is important, but the real key is layering all of them together to maximize protection and reduce the spread of these deadly viruses.
1. Wear a mask
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease. Wearing a mask helps prevent droplets you produce while speaking, coughing, or sneezing from spreading to others. “Masks are key along with social distancing and handwashing, said Marjorie Chorlins, Senior Vice President for European Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You want to select a mask with a close fit that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Studies have compared various mask materials – non-woven masks are best – but for most of us, the most important consideration is comfort. The best mask is one you can wear comfortably and consistently.
2. Keep your distance
In addition to wearing a mask, it is important to also maintain physical distance from others. The novel coronavirus spreads mainly among people in close contact (within about 6 feet). Spread happens when you are exposed to droplets from an infected person, typically when they cough, sneeze, or talk.
Masks don’t block 100% of droplets, so physical distancing is an important second layer. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, CDC says it is important to stay at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible, even if you—or they—do not have any symptoms.
“We know social distancing is important. Staying away from crowded indoor activities is important," said Suzanne Clark, President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
3. Wash your hands
Handwashing with soap removes germs from hands. Even with mask wearing and physical distancing, viral droplets can be left on surfaces like door handles, handrails, and table tops, so it is important to regularly wash your hands to prevent germs from entering your body and making you sick. As U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams explained, “Wash your hands, wear a mask, and watch your distance…. If we do these three things we can reopen."
4. Get a flu shot
It is important to get a flu shot every year. During our recent interview with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, he shared that the flu costs the average U.S. county $2 million every year – and that’s not counting the billions in lost productivity and increased medical costs.
Now, during the coronavirus pandemic, we know that flu symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms are very similar. Therefore, cases of the flu will lead to increased COVID testing and demand on hospitals, causing even more competition for the same health care resources. Moreover, a recent study from the UK has raised serious concerns about the risk of contracting COVID-19 and seasonal flu at the same time.
So, while it is always important to get this vaccine, this year it is more critical than ever.
“We will never open this economy quickly and fully unless 1) people get their flu shot and 2) get their COVID shot when the vaccines are available,” explained Steven Anderson, President and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
5. Spread the word
Join us in calling on everyone you know do their part to take the preventative measures above to help slow the spread of the keep America open, healthy and strong. Click here to access a social media toolkit and join the conversation online using the hashtags #SlowTheSpread and #KeepAmericaOpen.
Together, we can create a much-needed “wake-up call” moment for our country and help protect our friends, families, colleagues and neighbors.
CDC Guidance and Resources
For additional information, visit the CDC website or explore the resources below:
- How to Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19 (CDC)
- Recommendations for Businesses and Workplaces (CDC)
- Video: Stop the Spread of COVID-19 (CDC)
For more insights and learnings from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Path Forward series, check out the video interviews below:
- Bill and Melinda Gates discussed when to expect a COVID-19 vaccine and what the Gates Foundation is doing to ensure it’s equitably distributed around the world.
- “To have a healthy community, you need a healthy business community,” explained Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, in a discussion of what we can do to prevent the spread of the virus.
- “Testing is the key” to return to a more normal economy, said James Bullard, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
- Ret. Navy Vice Admiral Dr. Raquel Bono, director of Washington State COVID-19 Health System Response Management, talked about the role businesses can play in testing and contact tracing efforts.
- Rich Thau, president of Engagious, looked at how consumers changed their behaviors and attitudes during the pandemic.
- Harvard University’s Dr. Joseph Allen discussed how building and office design plays an important role in mitigating virus spread.
- Jeroen Lokerse of Cushman & Wakefield discussed the “Six Feet Office” design concept and what this new workplace could look like.
- Dr. Margaret Hamburg, former FDA Commissioner, discussed how to make schools and childcare centers safer.
- Rick Cotton, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, explained what his organization did to protect his employees while continuing to operate.
- Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger, explained what Kroger grocery stores did to ensure safety for customers and employees.