The World Health Organization (WHO) extends COVID-19 pandemic as the effects of this virus still warrants a public health emergency of international concern. This is our reality and the American Nurses Association – Illinois wants everyone to be as safe as possible. The safety and well-being of our children, families, and communities is paramount. Furthermore, the safety of our nurses, healthcare workers, and every frontline worker must be valued as they work every day caring for us.
ANA-Illinois continues to support loosening guidelines with the state monitoring these three important goals:
- A consistent drop in cases over a two-week time period coupled with reliable and adequate community testing.
- Reliable access to testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) without the need for rationing.
- The ability for ample contact tracing. (Expand testing needs to address tracing protocols, social contagion tracking, and epidemiology).
Relaxing stay-in-place restrictions and/or resuming large public gatherings runs the risk of undoing the work we have all done together over the last two months. Illinoisans should be proud of our collective work as we see that physical distancing efforts and stay at home orders have slowed the rate of COVID-19 infections in Illinois.
Illinois’ economic health will follow as our population health improves, making it critical we all take part in doing what we can to protect each other. Even as public health officials have deemed it safe to reopen, doing so without continuing the necessary precautions could be deadly to ourselves and our neighbors.
We need to understand the possibility that this pandemic will not be over soon, and that people need to be prepared for possible periodic resurgences of disease. Highlighting this is why it is so important for all of us to do our part. To ignore science and data will compromise your health and the health of others, delaying our ability to get back to a safe living environment.
ANA-Illinois is grateful to our public health officials and the Governor’s office moving quickly to implement early stay at home orders, however, now with restrictions slowly easing, we must remain vigilant and ANA-Illinois commends those public school leaders for keeping schools closed at this time and making the best plans available to re-open schools safely in the future. ANA-Illinois also commends all businesses that are requiring masks to protect themselves and their customers until we can learn more about this virus and can assure safety for our community.
Deploying public health tools that prevent the virus’ spread and aligning them with education strategies for all our citizens continues:
- Continue to stay home as much as possible, especially those with underlying chronic health conditions (especially diabetes and heart conditions) and those over 60 years of age.
- Anytime you are going to be around other people whether it is at stores, churches, restaurants, protests, businesses, or any gatherings with people (especially with more than 10 people) that you are not typically around, be respectful of others’ health and please wear a mask (use homemade masks to save the surgical masks and N95 respirators for frontline workers), this protects others from you. To choose not to wear a mask could cost a loved one or neighbor their life because anyone can be an asymptomatic/pre-symptomatic carrier of the Covid-19 virus and by not wearing a mask, you will compromise the health of those around you. Stay 6ft or more apart and be sure the mask covers your NOSE and MOUTH and CHIN.
- Based on limited data (cdc.gov) children with either suspected or confirmed infection, those infants (<12 months of age) may be at higher risk of severe or critical disease compared with older children. Keep your children at home as much as possible and away from public places.
- If older children accompany you to a store, be sure they are wearing a mask, remind them to not touch their face, and wash their hands frequently.
- We can support our businesses by choosing to keep them and their customers as safe as possible, and this is by wearing a mask. Those that have mandated wearing a mask are being proactive to keep their businesses open and this mandate is similar to the “No shirt, No shoes, No service” signs we are all familiar with. What a simple thing we can all do, wear a homemade mask or face covering of some sort to protect each other. This may be considered an inconvenience but protecting each other is not oppression.
- Wash your hands frequently and do not touch your face. Regularly washing your bare hands (skin intact) offers more protection against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
- To date, the CDC has not recommended the use of gloves for general daily activities. There are a few exceptions, such as:
- Touching the buttons or handles on a gas pump when disinfecting wipes are not available.
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
- Handling dirty laundry, kitchen items, or trash from someone who has the virus.
- Even in these cases, gloves are only effective when proper procedures are followed (cdc.gov)
The more we stay home, use social distancing, wear masks, and wash our hands, the less we put our communities and businesses at risk, therefore, the more likely our state can remain open and restrictions can continue to ease. If we compromise this progress by not following these guidelines, it will put additional burden back onto our citizens and the economy, but most importantly, negate the progress made that has allowed us to transition to reopening our state.
Susan Y Swart EdD, MS, RN, CAE
Executive Director, American Nurses Association-Illinois