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> COVID19 Social Distancing to Stop the Spread


Illustration of question marks with the words Frequently Asked Questions2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Social Distancing

THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING of our community is our top priority. Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) is working closely with community partners to prevent and respond to the evolving novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Community Social Distancing

BE A SOCIAL DISTANCE CHAMPION! Help others help us all slow the spread of Coronavirus and COVID-19! Encourage friends and family to follow these guidelines:

  • People should not gather in groups outside of their homes, with the exception of essential workers.
  • Only go out in public for essential reasons, such as buying food or medicines.
  • When in public, keep 6 feet distance between yourself and others. Use hand sanitizer when you enter a store and when you exit, or wear gloves. 
  • Minimize in-person contact.
  • Limit all outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities that put you in close contact with people.
  • Wash hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being outside of your house.
  • Those at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 should avoid any in-person contact with others. Higher risk individuals include older adults (age 60+), those who are immune-compromised, those who have a chronic medical condition, especially heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, .
  • Anyone who may have been exposed to the coronavirus, and who are at risk for coming down with COVID-19 should consider going into self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Social Distancing does not mean emotional distancing or isolation. Check on friends, coworkers, neighbors through phone and text.

As the number of positive cases increase, social distancing must continue to be a community effort – one in which everyone plays a part.

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Use of face masks or cloth covering

The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face mask or covering when you go someplace where it is hard to stay 6-feet away from other people, such as a supermarket or pharmacy.

There is community spread of COVID 19 in Tompkins County. The CDC guidance applies here.

Important points:

  • Use simple cloth face masks or coverings to slow the spread of the virus.
  • Do not seek out surgical masks or N-95 respirators. These must still be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
  • The simple cloth masks will help slow the spread of the virus by people who are contagious and do not know it.
  • Even people who don’t have symptoms can spread the virus just by talking, which can be limited by wearing a cloth face covering.
  • The very best way to help slow the spread is to stay home and do social distancing. Washing hands often, disinfecting surfaces, and all other recommendations are still very important, and must continue even if a cloth face covering is used when you have to go out for essential supplies.
  • Wash your cloth mask or covering everyday with your laundry, and dry in your dryer.
  • Do not touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth when you take off your mask, and wash your hands with soap and water immediately after you take it off.
  • CDC is not recommending face coverings for children 2 years of age and younger

For more information, follow these links

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Tips for Shopping

Shopping for essential items such as food, medicines, and cleaning supplies is the only time you should be out in public areas where you will be close to people other than those in your household. Here are some tips to follow:

Before you go

  • Make a list of what you need and stick to the list. This will help you keep from lingering in one place while you think about what you need, and shorten the overall time you spend in the store

While you are shopping

  • Wear disposable gloves
  • Wipe down cart handle and child seat, or basket handle
  • Limit your contact with frequently used surfaces in the checkout area, such as candy racks, counter areas, and credit card readers
  • Make sure the store staff sanitize the checkout area between every customer, including conveyor belts and card reader areas. At self-checkout areas, make sure all surfaces are sanitized between every customer.
  • Some stores are requiring you to keep and fill your reusable bags in your cart, and not on store counters.

When you get home

  • Put all your bags in one area before
  • Wipe down cans, jars, bottles, boxes
  • Wash produce
  • Wipe down counter tops, fridge and door handles, other surfaces in the area you unloaded and put away your groceries.
  • Clean your phone if you used it while you were out
  • Some sources suggest immediately washing the clothes you wore to the store, and taking a shower when you get home from shopping.

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Even when you get outside and enjoy the outdoors, social distancing is critical to slowing the spread!

Getting outdoors to walk, jog, hike, garden, ride a bicycle or visit a park are healthy ways to stay active and reduce stress and anxiety while staying at home and social distancing. These are some simple ways you can protect you and your family from COVID-19 while enjoying the outdoors.

Important points:

  • Limit the time you spend with people other than those in your immediate household. Spend outdoor time alone, or with just one or two others at the most.
  • Avoid close contact with people, even when outside. Keep a distance of more than 6 feet to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 6-feet is two adult arm lengths.
  • Do not play games or do activities that require close contact.
  • Don’t share equipment such as bicycles, helmets, balls or frisbees.
  • Avoid frequently touched surfaces and objects. This includes playground equipment like slides and swings.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue and discard the tissue in a closed container.
  • Image of a CDC Wash Your Hands poster. Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol:
    • When you return indoors,
    • before and after eating,
    • after using the restroom,
    • after coughing or sneezing, and
    • after touching surfaces or items that may be contaminated.
If you are sick or had contact with someone who is sick in the last 14 days:
  • You should stay home.
  • You may enjoy spending time in your own backyard or other personal outdoor space but should not go into public outdoor spaces.

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Coronavirus FAQ Page