Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic

Photo by By monkeybusinessimages,
courtesy iStockphoto
The holiday season is almost here! For many of us, this is our favorite time of year. We look forward to Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s! But with COVID-19, this year’s holiday season is going to look different. By following these practices, you can have a safe and happy holiday.

Celebrating virtually or just with members of your own household is always the lowest risk activity. Hosting in-person activities will have different levels of risk. The safest option is to celebrate with the people you live with and hold virtual celebrations with others.  

If you choose to host or go to an in-person event, consider these factors that increase the risk of spreading COVID-19

1. Community levels of COVID-19: Check the number of COVID-19 cases and community spread in both the event location and in the places where people are traveling from. If any of those has a rise in COVID-19 cases, consider switching to a virtual version.

2. Community guidance: Follow the guidelines set by your city or state.

3. Location: Indoor, in-person events have more risk than outdoor events. If you must be indoors, open windows or doors to let lots of air through.

4. Time: The longer the event is, the more time people have to spread the virus. Keep in-person gatherings short to lower your risk.

5. The number of people: The CDC does not have a limit or recommended number of people you should have in one place together. Their experts suggest that the size of a holiday event should be decided by how well you can limit contact, risk of spread and by any state, local, territorial or tribal health and safety laws.

6. Behaviors of attendees: If anyone in the group has not been practicing physical distancing, hand washing, mask wearing and other important steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they put everyone at risk. This is true before and during your event.

If you are hosting family or friends from out of state, plan ahead and clearly communicate your COVID-19 guidelines before they arrive

  • Let your guests know that if COVID-19 rates are on the rise in their communities, they should stay home and celebrate virtually instead.
  • You can ask that people travelling get a COVID-19 test before and quarantine between their test and travel to limit their exposure. 
  • Make sure to have an open conversation with everyone involved about the risks and preventative measures so you can set rules for everyone to follow.

If you or someone you live with has been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, do not host or participate in any in-person celebrations! If you or someone you live with is at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, avoid in-person events with people outside your home and other large groups. Check the CDC website for more detailed information and guidelines.

Your virtual gathering can still be a celebration! Make it fun and get creative. Get dressed up in the holiday spirit, play games and cook festive food. You can still do Secret Santa over Zoom by planning ahead and mailing or dropping off gifts!

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise again daily, do your part and wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your physical distance of 6 feet! 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Get Ready is at the Annual Meeting!

We are only two days away from this year’s APHA Annual Meeting & Expo! The APHA 2020 Annual Meeting & Expo will occur virtually on Oct. 24-28. And Get Ready will be there!

Although this year will be different, APHA has created an incredible virtual experience for you through all of the virtual booths, scientific sessions, poster sessions, networking and engagement opportunities and so much more. The best part about this year being virtual is that you get 24/7 online access to sessions and events, all from the comfort of your home! Also, content will be available to view on demand until August 2021, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything. It’s not too late to register

Come check us out at the Get Ready Booth where you can:

  • View our fun welcome video to learn more about Get Ready and what we do!
  • Find links to downloadable fact sheets and infographics about preparing for different disasters
  • Schedule a one-on-one appointment with one of our experts to get your questions answered about Get Ready and emergency preparedness! 

This year has just shown how important it is to be prepared for emergencies. We’re all still fighting through the global COVID-19 pandemic. We must continue to wear our masks, wash our hands and keep physical distance to stay safe. Recent wildfires and hurricanes have caused devastation in communities throughout the U.S. Being prepared is the best way for you and your family to stay safe and healthy during these disasters!

We hope to see you during APHA’s Annual Meeting! Let us know how you’re getting ready by tagging @GetReady on Twitter and using the hashtag #APHA2020! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Celebrate Get Ready Day!

It’s time to celebrate Get Ready Day! Is your family prepared for emergencies that might come your way? This is the perfect time to make a plan and take simple steps that can help keep you healthy and safe in the face of disasters.

APHA’s Get Ready Day is held annually on the third Tuesday in September, National Preparedness Month. This year we’re celebrating Get Ready Day on Sept. 15! 

Natural disasters are already getting more severe — and climate change is only expected to make things worse. And systemic racism means the effects of both COVID-19 and climate events have disproportionately affected communities of color. Yet surveys show many Americans are underprepared and don’t have an emergency plan. 

Get Ready Day, held the third Tuesday in September, encourages health workers, organizations, community groups and students to join APHA in raising awareness about the importance of getting prepared. The day is also a chance to start emergency preparedness conversations in your own household.

There are many ways to get involved with Get Ready Day:

  • Create an emergency preparedness plan at home for yourself and your family. Make it a fun family activity! 
  • Put together an emergency stockpile with plenty of supplies to prepare for COVID-19 and other natural disasters. 
  • Make a plan to get this year’s flu shot! CDC’s Vaccine Finder shows you where you can get your shot in your neighborhood. 
  • Spread awareness about Get Ready Day and promote preparedness by posting Get Ready tools  and shareables to your social media accounts using the #GetReadyDay hashtag. You can also share what you’re doing to stay safe and get prepared at home. 

 Let us know what you’re doing to stay safe and get prepared at home!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Staying safe as stores reopen

 APHA intern Sakshi Handa is a student of public health, and like many people in the U.S., she also works a retail job. After closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the store where she works reopened recently. Sakshi shared the experience of heading back to work here.

As stores start to open and we start to adjust to our new normal, I want to share my new before and after work routine. As a public health college intern and retail employee I know how important it is to keep me my family, my coworkers and customers safe during these unprecedented times. Here are the things I am doing before, during and after work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Before work:

1. Every day before going to work, the first thing I do is take CDC’s self-health assessment for COVID-19. I check to see if I have any symptoms such as a fever, cough, shortness of breath or sore throat. If I answer yes to any of those symptoms or have had recent contact with a COVID-19 positive person I know to call out of work. If I am feeling healthy, can answer no to all of the items on the CDC checklist and have had no contact with a COVID-positive person then I know I am good to go into work. 

2. I drive to work. As soon as I get there, I put my mask on according to CDC guidelines

During work:

1. Prior to starting my shift, the manager on duty completes the same CDC health assessment for every single employee. If anyone is experiencing any symptoms or has had contact with a positive COVID-19 patient they are asked to go home.

2. Throughout my shift, I am required to wear gloves and keep my mask on at all times.

3. I sanitize my gloves with alcohol-based sanitizer before helping each new next customer. 

4. I change my gloves to a new pair every few hours and always wash my hands before I put on a new pair.  

5. Throughout my entire shift at the register I am required to give the counter space and the card machines a full wipe down every hour using EPA-approved cleaning supplies

6. When I am done working, I remove my gloves and wash my hands with soap and water. I count to 20 seconds silently while I do.

After work:

1. As soon as I leave work, the first thing I do is remove my mask making sure to handle only the ear loops or ties  and use hand sanitizer that I keep in my car.

2. When I get home, I wash my hands

3. Before spending time with anyone in my family I put my work clothes in the laundry and take a shower. 

4. After I shower and change into clean clothes, I wipe down my phone with disinfectant wipes. 

When I first got called back to work I was a little scared, but the store, my managers and all my coworkers are following every CDC guideline to keep the store clean and only letting in a few customers at a time. It also made me feel safe that all customers are also wearing masks and some of them even have gloves on too. Everyone is doing their part to keep themselves and those around them safe and stop the spread of the coronavirus! 

Friday, August 07, 2020

Get Ready unveils summer infographics

Living in a pandemic involves a lot of unknowns. Though there are constant updates coming out, all of that information can be overwhelming. This summer, Get Ready has released new infographics to help you navigate this information and stay prepared. These infographics are all available on @GetReady on Twitter.

In the graphic called “Physical Distancing,” there are tips on how to protect each other from infection. One of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus is through limiting the interactions we have with those outside our household. The easiest way to do that is to stay home. This limits the spread of the virus by those who may not know they have it.

When you do need to go out and interact with others in public, make sure to wear a mask! They help reduce the spread of the virus. Our “Masks: The basics” graphic makes it easy to understand.
The “Summer heat and COVID-19” graphic covers two health threats at once.  It shows how to prepare for the summer heat while staying safe from infection. For more information on preparing for the summer, refer to our heatwave fact sheet.

On social media, we’ve launched the #Mask4Who campaign. Take a picture in your mask and tell us who you wear it for! Our quick guide reminds you the right way to wear one.

All of the Get Ready infographics are easy to download and share. You can add your own logo to the bottom and post in your school, work, apartment building or doctor’s office. They’re an easy way to let people know how to stay safe! For more general information on the coronavirus pandemic, view our fact sheet

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Mask for Who?

The U.S. recently reached 4 million COVID-19 cases. Some states are now requiring the public to wear masks. Masks are useful in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Cloth masks can block as much as 50% of tiny droplets that come from your mouth or nose during breathing or talking. Without a mask, those droplets can reach others and make them sick.

APHA’s Get Ready team has launched the #Mask4Who social media campaign to help spread the word about the importance of masks.
We’re encouraging people to wear their masks, but with a slight twist. We want to know who you wear your mask for.
Some people may wear their masks for their children, parents or grandparents. Others may wear it for their friends, co-workers or neighbors. Whatever the case may be, there are people in all our lives who need us to help them stay safe.

To be part of #Mask4Who:
1. Get your favorite mask and put it on. Remember, it should cover both your nose and chin! 
2. Take picture of yourself with your mask. You can also include your family or others in your safety bubble with their masks. 
3. Share it! Post your photo on social media using #Mask4Who. We may even share your post with our followers.

This way, you’ll be sharing an important message, not germs.

And thanks for following the simple public health intervention that can help keep us all safe. See you online!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Lights, camera, animals! Announcing Get Ready’s annual photo contest

APHA’s Get Ready Photo Contest is back!  Don’t miss this chance for your pets to be Get Ready’s next animal supermodels.

This year’s photo contest is all about animal-to-animal friendships. Pets, farm animals, zoo animals and even animals from your backyard are welcome, but we need two or more animals in the picture — and the friendlier they are the better. Winning photos will be featured in APHA’s 2021 Get Ready Calendar.

Whether animals are doing something incredibly human, promoting emergency preparedness related or just looking downright adorable, we want to see them. For extra credit, take a look at our Get Ready campaign topics and have fun illustrating preparedness tips in your photos.

Need more inspiration? Check out photos in our previous Get Ready calendars. Then grab a camera, check the lighting and snap away!

But don’t delay: The deadline to submit your photos is July 22.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Hurricane season is here! Are you prepared?

Hurricane season began June 1, and it could be a dangerous one. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted that there will be three to six major hurricane seasons this year.

With the COVID-19 outbreak still going on, there are a few extra things to take into account during this year’s hurricane season. For example, you might have to shelter in a different place. Stores may not be open to get food or medicine. But you can take steps to make yourself and your family safer in case of a storm.

1. Create a stockpile checklist.
2. Involve the kids by making emergency preparedness fun, not scary.
3. A budget stockpile checklist can help you prepare for less money.
4. On your mark, get set, go bags! Make sure your go-bag is ready in case you need to leave quickly.
5. Put COVID-19 supplies in your go-bag. Add hand sanitizer and masks for each family member.
6. Keep your important documents, such as your ID and birth certificate, in a safe and easy-to-move container.

Remember, when you’re told by officials to evacuate, don’t hesitate to go!

With these steps, you’re stronger better and ready for whatever comes your way.

(Photo courtesy CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS)

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Get Ready Mailbag: Can we go back outside already?!

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you! Have a question you want answered? Send an email to

Q: People on the news are going to restaurants, beaches and hair salons. Why I am still sitting inside? I’m ready to quit this and go back out!

A: We hear you: Staying at home to protect yourself from coronavirus isn’t fun. So it’s easy to be envious of those who are out and about. In some states, people are going out because elected leaders have decided that the risk from COVID-19 there has dropped enough to do so. But the list of places people in those states are allowed to go is still very limited.

And some health officials aren't sure those leaders are making the right decision. They’re worried it’s too soon, and that more people may get infected and die. They don’t want to put health and lives at risk just so businesses can reopen, and they don’t want to overwhelm already-strained hospitals and medical workers.

Even in states that haven’t eased their safety recommendations, some people are deciding to go against advice and venture out. That’s relatable — as we’re all going a little stir crazy — but it’s not OK. Spending time in close contact with people outside your household is not a good idea yet, especially if you live in an area where cases of coronavirus are still increasing. (And even if they’re not, that can change quickly.)

The best thing to do is wait for health officials where you live to say it’s alright to go out and socialize again. They will know if the risk has fallen enough where you live and advise you on what you can do safely. Be sure to follow recommendations from actual public health and medical officials — not your friends, not political figures and not some TV talking head. Trustworthy sources of information include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your state or local health department.

When health officials do say it’s safe to stop saying home, you should still use your best judgment. If you’re someone who is older, or has diseases like diabetes or asthma, you will need to decide if it’s worth it, as you’re more likely to die or get very sick from COVID-19. And even if you don’t have those conditions, you can still pass coronavirus to someone you care about — like your family — without even knowing you have the disease.

Remember, even when cases of COVID-19 do fall and people start coming together again, the disease is not going away. So keep washing those hands, cleaning regularly, covering your sneezes and coughs, and wearing masks. When it comes to COVID-19, it’s better to have cautions than regrets.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Get Ready: What you need to know about the 2019 novel coronavirus

With all the news reports about a big new disease outbreak spreading in China, you may be looking for answers. In fact, you may be feeling a little freaked out. The Get Ready campaign is here to help.

Image courtesy CDC. Case counts as of Jan. 26, 2020
First off and foremost, if you live in the U.S., there’s no need to be alarmed. While there are estimated to be thousands of cases in China — mainly in Hubei province and its capital city, Wuhan, which is located in the eastern part of the country — there are few cases here in America.

The disease, which for now is being called the 2019 novel coronavirus, is in the same family as the common cold. Symptoms may include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, people have died, with at least 80 deaths reported in China.

Here in the U.S., doctors, hospital workers and other health professionals are on high alert for the disease. People who are sick in the U.S. can be isolated in hospitals to help prevent spread of the disease.

So why all the hullaballoo on TV and online? Part of the reason is that the 2019 novel coronavirus is a new disease that hasn’t been seen in humans before. So health officials want to find out more.

The new virus may also be similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome, a disease that killed 800 people around the world about 20 years ago. That worries health officials. But even during that outbreak, there were only eight cases of SARS in the U.S., and no deaths here.

More cases of 2019 novel coronavirus are expected to be reported in the U.S. in coming days and weeks. And it may be spread between people here at some point. In the past, health workers who are caring for sick people have been at high risk for such infections.

So you may be asking, “What does this mean for me?” Good question. In short, the risk to you and the rest of the U.S. general public is low. In fact, it’s much more likely that you’ll get the flu, which is estimated to have sickened 15 million and killed about 8,800 people since September in the U.S. alone.

Bottom line: To stay safe, keep doing what you’re supposed to do to prevent getting sick from a cold.  That includes:
• washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
• avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
• staying out of close contact with people who might be sick; and
• cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

And remember, if you’re sick with a cold or flu, stay home!

To learn more about the 2019 novel coronavirus, check out this info from CDC, which is being updated as more details are known.