This week, many states are reopening and beginning to lift lockdowns amid the COVID-19 crisis. That also means some people will be heading back to their workplaces, or are at least beginning to think about it.
This can be stress-inducing, especially if you’ve spent weeks on lockdown and have an eye on the grim statistics. So, what do you need to know about staying safe?
Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski recently spoke to Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician, former health commissioner for Baltimore and leading voice in public health on what you should keep in mind.
Here’s what she told us:
1. Inquire what workplace policies are in place.
“The CDC has guidelines that include deep cleaning, checking ventilation and having hand sanitizing materials. There are specific guidance for different types of workplaces. Your employer should do their part to keep you and other employees and customers safe,” said Dr. Wen.
2. Practice good public health hygiene.
“Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and use sanitizer when soap and water are not available,” said Dr. Wen. “Wipe down communal surfaces if you need to use them. For example, if you use a shared computer, wipe the keyboard with Clorox wipes before you type.
3. Reduce your risk in other areas.
“Just because you have to return to work doesn't mean that you need to return to normal in other areas. Avoid public transportation, unless you have to take it. Don't gather in groups,” advised Dr. Wen.
4. Ask about telecommuting.
“Many workplaces may not allow this, but some might,” said Dr. Wen. “Ask about other practices to reduce risk. For example, are there staggered shifts? If so, you can try to go work during off-peak hours.”
5. Use an abundance of caution if you live with people who are considered to be the most vulnerable — older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.
“Take off your work clothes when you get home and leave your shoes at the door,” said Dr. Wen. “Wash your hands very well. If you have any symptoms, immediately isolate yourself from others at home.”
She added, “For those who can, please continue to practice social distancing. Remember that social distancing is a privilege. Many people may have to return to work and be around others. For those do not, we can all do our part to keep ourselves and everyone around us safe and healthy.”