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As we count down to 2021, we cannot let our guard down

By Kelly Jolliff, Infection Prevention and Emergency Preparedness Manager 

As we look to celebrate the New Year and say good-bye to the history making 2020, let us look back and reflect on what we have learned and how this can help keep us safe in the coming year.

For many of us, 2020 has been full of challenges, long hours, stress, loneliness, and isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there has been much to celebrate as well. Babies were born, lives were saved, and our healthcare heroes shined bright. We all learned the importance of basic infection prevention measures, including hand hygiene, PPE, disinfection, isolation practices. We also learned some new practices, the proper way to wear masks, how to social distance and how to have a Zoom meeting. These tips should carry on into the New Year to help keep us safe.

As much as we might like it to just disappear, the COVID-19 pandemic will not being going away with the New Year. The vaccine brings great hope, but we cannot let our guard down. We must stay vigilant and remember what we learned in 2020 to keep ourselves and families safe:

  • Avoid large gatherings and crowds. The more people in a space together the greater the risk.
  • Maintain social distancing when around anyone who does not live with you. Close contact within 6 feet of someone for 15 minutes or more increases the risk of an exposure.
  • Wear your mask when around others outside of your home and avoid touching your face. The eyes, nose, and mouth are at greatest risk for getting exposed to droplets from others who are talking, singing, eating, sneezing, or coughing.
  • Wash your hands!
  • Avoid sharing food and drinks. Be mindful of how eating and drinking requires removal of mask and increases risk of exposure to droplets. Alcohol consumption may also affect behavior and increase risk.

The best way to celebrate saying good-bye to 2020 is to stay healthy and keep others healthy. We all have different preferences for celebrating and likely miss seeing our friends and family. But if we want to continue to celebrate with them in the future, we need to stay safe now. This pandemic will end, and then we will have even more to celebrate.

Best wishes to all for a safe and healthy New Year.