Hospitals across the nation have seen spikes in patient populations as COVID-19 numbers have risen because of the Delta variant. Delta is more easily spread than the original strain we first saw in 2020, but there are still plenty of things you can do to keep yourself safe.

The best way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. Even though the Delta variant has sickened many patients who were already vaccinated, the overwhelming majority of those hospitalized since July have been the unvaccinated.

Floyd continues to provide the vaccine to those who need it. To find out where you can be vaccinated and to make an appointment, visit floyd.org/about-floyd/covid-19/Pages/covid19_vaccine.aspx.

There is some risk associated with people with autoimmune conditions. If you have concerns, talk to your primary care physician.

Prevent spreading germs

Some of the other things you can do to prevent the virus are just good old-fashion hygiene tips:

♦ Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Use hand sanitizer if you don’t have any soap and water with you. This is especially important if you are taking care of someone who is sick.

♦ Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Touching any of these areas moves

germs from the hands into the body.

♦ Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. You can cough or sneeze into the bend of the elbow if you don’t have any tissue available. If you use tissues, throw them away immediately and wash your hands.

♦ Don’t go to work if you are sick and don’t return unless you know you are no longer COVID positive.

Wear a mask

You are protecting those around you by wearing a mask. COVID-19 spreads mainly through respiratory droplets that travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout, or sing. Masks are a simple way to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others.

To help avoid the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

Stay 6 feet away from others

Stay at least 6 feet (about two arm lengths) from other people. Maintaining that distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick. You should also avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

Keep your area clean

Every day, make an effort to clean surfaces that are touched often. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Ventilation is important

Keeping the air circulating inside your home helps keep the COVID-19 virus from accumulating inside. Although it is summer here in Georgia, open doors and windows as much as you can to bring in fresh, outdoor air. If you can’t do that, consider getting an air filtration system or even a window exhaust fan.

When to seek emergency medical attention

You should seek emergency medical care immediately if you experience the following:

♦ Trouble breathing

♦ Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

♦ New confusion

♦ Inability to wake or stay awake

♦ Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

Tifani Kinard is Administrator in Charge and Chief Nursing Officer at Polk Medical Center, a part of Floyd Healthcare Management.

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