News reports reveal the U.S. COVID-19 death toll hit 100,000 and unemployment rates are increasing as 1 in 4 Americans have filed for unemployment. Therefore, as cities and businesses across Texas reopen, we still need to work together to continue to flatten the curve and protect the vulnerable populations from COVID-19. But with so much information out there, it can be overwhelming to know what steps we should continue to take. We talked with Dr. David Harms, and he gave us three practical ways we can flatten the curve.

1. Avoid cross-contamination.

“Education on cross-contamination is a big need. We’re lacking that in general information that’s out there,” said Dr. Harms.

When opening doors, holding items, and touching surfaces, try to use only one hand. Wash your hands as soon as you’re done with a task to prevent contamination of other objects and surfaces. Clean high-touch areas between tasks as well.

“I noticed people that don’t have a medical background change hands when touching items. You’re really not safe when you do this,” said Dr. Harms.

When opening packages, mail, groceries, and other items brought into the home, throw away the packaging as you open the item. Wash or sanitize new items before use when you can.

If you are wearing a mask, make sure to wash in hot water or sanitize between each use. Masks can help prevent the spread of germs from people who are asymptomatic. They are also a great reminder not to touch your face!

2. Help the older generations stay home.

Dr. Harms said, “They keep telling us to look out for the older people. Why? Some of the changes that come with age include flexibility of our bodies, including our lungs and our immune systems.”

He said, in Collin County, there have been 35 cases in people over 80 and 13 have died, which is approximately a 37% mortality rate.

“That’s tough. Those people need to be hunkered down, and people need to be delivering to them instead of going out,” said Dr. Harms.

At the Harms household, his daughter shops for them, and she puts all items on a table out in the garage. She takes perishables home and washes them before returning to the family. When she brings items into the house, Dr. Harms opens the door, and she puts the items directly in the fridge so nothing is touched. The items left in the garage are there for three days before they bring them in. They want to give time for the virus to die off.

Dr. Harms said, by far, the hardest part was not being able to hug his daughter. A wave did not satisfy him or his wife.

Nursing homes are a concern, too. Even though visitors are not being admitted into nursing homes, people are still coming and going, such as staff and doctors, to prepare food and take care of the elderly. It’s hard to limit the traffic. Once it gets contaminated, it is pretty contagious and spreads very easily. Only some people can take their loved one out of the nursing home and take care of them.

3. Keep social distancing as cities reopen.

As cities and states gradually reopen, we also need to slowly ease back into our social gatherings. It is best to still socialize and visit with people from a distance right now.

“For getting together with family, we have our kids come out on the lawn and sit together across the yard and definitely not touching. None of them are sick or have symptoms,” said Dr. Harms.

He noted the virus has not really slowed in Plano, but they do have hospital beds available.

“So, it is ok to open things up slowly. What the governor did is reasonable. But the virus has actually not slowed; it has leveled,” said Dr. Harms.

How then do we want to treat our parents and our grandparents? Let’s call them regularly to see what we can do. Can we help care for them or our neighbors around us? There are many opportunities to be Here For Good while flattening the curve.

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