Living Well

Tips for going out in public safely

Dr. Lauren Bartholomew
Tips for going out in public safely
Restrictions may be easing, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to get comfortable. COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, so you can still contract it and/or spread it to others around you. Before you head out in public, remember some of the basics that have been emphasized throughout this pandemic.
  • You are safer at home, especially if you are older than 65 years, are immunocompromised, or have medical issues (such as HTN, asthma, COPD, diabetes, heart conditions, liver disease, or kidney disease requiring dialysis.
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds
  • Stay six feet away from others as much as possible
  • Always wear a mask in public, even if others around you aren’t
  • Avoid touching your face and objects/surfaces outside your home
  • Stay home if you feel sick

Make it less stressful on yourself

Think of going out as a mental game, like how children play the game of avoiding stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. The goal is to avoid touching things and coming within six feet of others. If you mess up, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer and try again. You will have to use some creativity!

Limit what you touch

  • Look for automatic sensors for doors and use those doors when possible during your outings.
  • Use your elbow to push the handicap door button, and your foot, hip, arm, or shoulder to push doors open when necessary.
  • Always carry disposable napkins/tissues/wipes to pull door handles open. You can also use your sleeve/clothing as a barrier between your hands and the door.
  • Take caution when using gloves. You are better off without them, and instead, frequently washing or sanitizing your hands. Unless you’ve been trained on how to wear them, you risk contaminating yourself and others by using them incorrectly.

Always practice proper social distancing

  • Keep in mind businesses are limited to a percentage of their normal capacity to help with social distancing. However, if the business has a long line or seems crowded, you may want to avoid going at that time. Try going during off-peak hours, such as on weekdays, when the store first opens, or just before closing.
  • If you run into friends or family while out and about, avoid giving kisses and hugs, and stay within six feet of them. Give them a Wakanda salute instead!

Take precautions while in public restrooms

  • Look for automatic soap and paper towel dispensers
  • Use a paper towel to turn off the sink faucet after washing your hands and use one again to pull open the bathroom door when exiting.

Plan ahead when visiting restaurants

  • Call ahead or go online to see what protocols they have in place. Employees should be wearing masks. Some restaurants may have disposable menus, utensils, plates, and drinkware available.
  • Look at the menu online before you go.
  • Choose outdoor seating over indoor seating, as we know the virus does not seem to survive as long outdoors.
  • Avoid sharing food, utensils, and glassware. Consider bringing a reusable straw (glass, metal)

Shop with a purpose

  • Get in and get out as efficiently as possible. Now is not the time for leisurely browsing. Try browsing online first or ordering for in-store pickup.
  • Become a visual shopper. Look first and deliberately touch store items.
  • Pay attention to signs, decals, and six-foot distance markers.
  • If it is a tight area, step back and wait for others to pass/finish browsing.
  • Politely ask for space if someone is getting too close. Be compassionate if someone asks the same of you—don’t take it personally.

Practice awareness when checking out at the register

  • Watch where you place your belongings such as your phone, car keys, wallets, and purse. If they touch a contaminated surface, you risk unwittingly bringing the virus home with you.
  • Use contactless or digital payment when possible, such as debit/credit cards with chips, or Apple/Google/Samsung Pay.
  • Use a knuckle or pen to tap out PIN codes on keypads or digitally sign name on screen.
  • Carry your own pen to sign receipts.

Take precaution while working out

  • Gyms and fitness centers should be sanitizing often, but it won’t hurt to wipe down your equipment before and after usage in case employees don’t get a chance to come around before you use the equipment.
  • Consider exercising outside or creating a temporary home gym until you feel safe visiting public exercise facilities.
  • Do not drink from public water fountains. Bring your own water bottle with you.

Read more about what the West Jefferson Fitness Center staff is doing to keep our facilities safe.

Do a final safety clean once you’re done

  • Wipe down your steering wheel, gear shift, radio buttons, handles, push-start button, and turn signals in your car.
  • Wash your hands as soon as you enter your home.
  • Wipe down any surfaces you set your purchases on, especially if they are commonly touched in your home.

Most importantly, we want you to know our hospital and doctors’ offices are doing everything we can to ensure you have a safe visit. Do not avoid going to the emergency room if a health emergency arises! The consequences of neglecting your health could be worse that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the hospital.

Don’t delay the care you need. Keep your appointments. We miss you and we’re ready to care for you!

Learn more about what our hospital and primary care clinics are doing to keep our patients safe.



About Dr. Lauren Bartholomew:

Dr. Lauren D. Bartholomew is a Family Medicine physician with West Jefferson Medical Center Primary Care Clinic. She was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School and received her Bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.

After earning her medical degree from Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, she completed her residency at University of Illinois College of Medicine - Peoria in Family Medicine.

Dr. Bartholomew chose to practice Family Medicine because she values the deep and trusting long term patient-physician relationship that stems from caring for the whole family, from infancy through adulthood.

She sees patients at the Luling and Lapalco Primary Care clinics.