Stay Safe by Staying at Home This July 4th Weekend

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Good barbecue, great fireworks and even better company — the recipe for a perfect Fourth of July.

But, this year will be different. This year has to be different. The reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic halts for no holiday. In fact, COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise in Houston at an alarming rate. So, while each and every one of us wants nothing more than to take a break from social distancing and enjoy this holiday weekend with our friends and relatives, we can't.

Right now, gathering in groups — even groups of family, relatives or friends that we trust — just isn't safe.

As Fourth of July meets the current surge of COVID-19 cases in Houston, the place you are safest is at home. As you gear up to celebrate the holiday at home this weekend with your household, keep the following three tips in mind.

Stay safe by planning ahead
Even though you're staying at home this Fourth of July, you can still celebrate. Maybe you're planning a backyard barbecue for your household or a virtual party with your family or friends. No matter how you decide to celebrate, make sure you plan ahead.

During a surge of COVID-19 cases, the last thing you want to do is put off errands and end up in a packed grocery store with what feels like the rest of Houston. This means you'll need to make your shopping list now and gather or order any groceries or supplies you may need for your at-home celebration well before the weekend hits.

If you do venture out to pick up groceries or supplies yourself, you'll also need a plan while you're out and about. Make sure you:

Practice social distancing
Wear a mask
Use great hand hygiene

And to make Fourth of July feel special even though you're staying at home, plan activities you know your entire household will enjoy. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Connect with family and friends over video chat
Light up your grill and bring on the barbecue
Watch fireworks on TV
Dress up in red, white and blue
Set up some serious backyard competition with badminton, volleyball or cornhole 
Binge-watch your favorite movies together
Break out a board game or puzzle

Stay safe by knowing the symptoms and how to get care
Right now, even the slightest cough or need to clear your throat can send you on high alert. Could it be COVID-19?

Some symptoms of COVID-19 overlap with other common respiratory illnesses, so it's important to know how to distinguish COVID-19 from a cold, flu or allergies. In addition, the effects of the Saharan dust cloud that's still lingering over Houston may cause similar symptoms, too.

If you do have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, your first step should be to get screened virtually by one of our board-certified care providers through Houston Methodist Virtual Urgent. Our providers are available 24/7, even on holidays, to help determine if you need testing, as well as advise you where to go. Many people experience only mild symptoms that can be treated at home through pain relievers, cough medications, rest and hydration.

If your symptoms are severe, such as high fever and/or severe shortness of breath, you may need to go to your nearest emergency room. To the extent possible, call ahead to inform the emergency room staff that you're concerned you may have COVID-19.

Stay home — unless you need emergency care
While every Houstonian should stay home this Fourth of July, a medical emergency is still an emergency — and should be handled like one.

Since you won't want to venture out of your house unnecessarily, know the symptoms that require immediate medical attention, such as:

Abdominal or stomach pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting
Bodily trauma, especially to the head or spine
Difficulty breathing or severe shortness of breath
Headache accompanied by fever and confusion
Persistent fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
Severe burns
Severe pain or pressure in the chest
Stroke symptoms, including face drooping, arm weakness, difficulty talking, dizziness, blurred vision, intense headache and confusion

If you're experiencing concerning symptoms, don't let your fear of catching COVID-19 keep you from heading to the emergency room. Know that our emergency rooms are safe — taking every precaution to protect your health, including screening all patients before they even enter the door and isolating suspected COVID-19 patients in a separate area.

Concerned you may have COVID-19?
If you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a Virtual Urgent Care provider 24/7. The provider will help you determine if testing is needed and advise you on where you should go.

Post by: Katie McCallum

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