As we approach the holiday season and we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to double our efforts to minimize our exposure to the virus and to do everything possible to prevent its spread.

Therefore, we would like to provide you with friendly reminders about health and wellness tips that everyone should constantly be practicing:

Be Respectful: Wear a Mask! – Wear a mask when you’re in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Avoid masks that are made of materials that make it too hard to breathe.  Also avoid masks with valves or vents that allow virus particles to escape and masks that should be saved for healthcare workers. Wear masks with two or more layers to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Establish Social Distancing – Practice social distancing by putting space between yourself and others who are not from your household. As we move most of our activities indoors, this is critically important. The CDC recommends staying at least 6 feet or about 2 arms’ length from others.

Wash your Hands – Wash your hands often and thoroughly to help slow the spread of COVID-19.  Encourage your family members, particularly children, to wash their hands frequently.

Eradicate Influenza Risk: Get a Flu Shot – the CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. Research suggests patients can get sick with both the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could amplify the effect of both infections.

Listen to Your Body: Don’t Ignore Routine Healthcare – putting off regular visits to your physician or postponing care for chronic diseases may only exacerbate your condition.  Be careful, but do not ignore your ongoing healthcare needs.  And, IF you think you’re sick, stay home!  Monitor your symptoms, avoid close contact with everyone, and call ahead before visiting your doctor.

Limit Holiday gatherings, especially indoor events.  When planning to host a holiday celebration, you should assess current COVID-19 levels in your community to determine whether to postpone, cancel, or limit the number of attendees.

Dr. Panton is President of the Illinois State Medical Society; Dr. Jain is Co-Founder of Illinois Medical Professions Action Team.