HEALTH FIRST: Memorial Day Not a Holiday From COVID-19 Safety and Social Distancing

This day remains important as we salute our nation’s heroes and enjoy time with the people we care about

As our nation prepares to observe Memorial Day, this year will be a lot different than years past. With COVID-19 still an issue globally, we all must take steps to enjoy this pre-summer holiday in a way that protects ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. (Health First image)

As our nation prepares to observe Memorial Day, this year will be a lot different than years past. With COVID-19 still an issue globally, we all must take steps to enjoy this pre-summer holiday in a way that protects ourselves, our loved ones, and our community.

“We can still honor the members of our military who sacrificed everything for us,” said Dr. Jeffrey Stalnaker, Chief Physician Executive with Health First.

“This day remains important as we salute our nation’s heroes and enjoy time with the people we care about. It’s just important to merge our usual holiday safety precautions with those that protect us all against COVID-19.”

Typical Memorial Day observances – parades, parties, and other large gatherings where people congregate – would best take a hiatus for now.

Health First encourages our friends, families, and neighbors to think outside the box for ways to enjoy this national holiday during this public health crisis:

■ Participate with your own immediate family, whom you have been staying with at home. Enjoy the fresh air ­– go for a family walk or bike ride or take a dip in your pool.

■ Have a picnic or barbecue in your backyard. Enjoy a movie or two with a patriotic theme. Or even harken back to board games. Put down those smartphones and have some good old-fashioned fun without risking being out in public and being possibly exposed to COVID-19

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■ If you do go to a social gathering or insist on hosting one, keep it to 10 attendees or fewer – and ask the people you plan to mingle with beforehand if they have been out of the state of Florida in the last couple of weeks, been exposed to or tested for COVID-19, or are exhibiting symptoms of the virus (such as cough, shortness of breath or fever). Anyone who falls into those categories should sit out this function.

■ Whether you’re hanging out with others or out and about, make sure to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, carry and use hand sanitizer as needed, and stay at least six feet apart from others. And if you cough or sneeze, do so into the crook of your arm.

■ Display an American Flag on your property.

■ Visit the gravesite of a late veteran – whether you knew them or not.

■ Consider a Virtual Memorial Day observance using a social networking video app or your smartphone – or perhaps a car parade (similar to drive-by birthday celebrations that are popping up more frequently these days).

Even with these alternatives for holiday observances, it’s important to remember the basics when it comes to safety:

■ Don’t drink and drive – or drink and go boating. It’s important to not get behind the wheel of a car – or a boat – if you’ve had any alcohol. Have a designated driver – which should always be the case.

■ Be careful when grilling or enjoying a fire pit. Again, watch the alcohol (as it slows your reflexes) and make sure to keep an eye on children and pets. A burn can happen in an instant, so stay focused on the task at hand (and people milling around).

■ If you’re around a body of water (whether a lake, pond or pool) always keep an eye on children and others at risk for drowning. Someone should always be watching those who are swimming, in the event of any distress. Drowning can happen quickly.

■ Just because you’re on a boat or outdoors doesn’t mean you’re safe from COVID-19. Be sure to apply not only sunscreen but a face mask – and take the same precautions as listed above.

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■ If you or a loved one gets injured, do not hesitate to head straight for one of Health First’s four Emergency Departments. You will be safe. (In addition, our Health First/AdventHealth Centra Care urgent care Gateway facility, located at 1223 Gateway Drive, Suite 1E, Melbourne, will be open on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

■ This provides a care option for urgent, non-life-threatening medical conditions for adults and children.) Our facilities are constantly cleaned and sanitized, we screen all who come into our hospitals for COVID-19, and everyone is required to wear a mask.

■  In addition, we have implemented strict social distancing standards for our waiting rooms and common areas (including Plexiglass partitions at check-in areas), and hand sanitizer is located in multiple locations all over the buildings.

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