ST. LOUIS — Malls are reopening. Restaurants are welcoming diners inside. Churches are allowing the faithful to pray inside their places of worship.
Signs of what life was like before the coronavirus pandemic are beginning to make their way around St. Louis and St. Louis County.
But doctors say some of the changes we’ve made in our everyday lives need to stick around, possibly until a vaccine is approved.
“The virus hasn’t left. It hasn’t changed. It’s still here. It’s still very contagious and it’s still very dangerous,” Dr. Alex Garza said Monday. He’s the incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force.
READ MORE: 'The virus hasn't left' | St. Louis doctors say social distancing measures need to continue as cities reopen
For weeks now, Dr. Garza has stressed the importance of social distancing, frequently washing hands and cleaning surfaces. He said as economies and businesses reopen, it’s especially important to continue those practices that helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in the St. Louis area.
“We also know that we’re never going to be at zero transmission until there’s a vaccine. So, we have to learn how to live with the virus and take all those important steps to keep it in check,” Dr. Garza said.
To help keep the coronavirus in check in the St. Louis area, Dr. Garza offered these eight steps to keep yourself, your loved ones and the entire community safe.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others – the exception being those you live with
- Wear a face mask in public
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Clean surfaces regularly, including phones, counters, light switches – anything that’s touched frequently
- Monitor yourself for signs of illness, contact your doctor if you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Don’t gather with more than 10 people
- Stay at home if you’re vulnerable or at high risk of infection
- Don’t visit nursing homes or assisted-living facilities
“These are the steps we all need to make to keep the transmission rate low and to prevent the new surge in cases,” Dr. Garza said.
He explained that continuing these measures will help keep the economy on the right track and prevent a second wave of illnesses.
“None of us wants to see a second wave of the virus that could have an impact not just on our economy but on our people as well,” he said.