Thanksgiving dinner was not the only aspect of the long holiday weekend health officials say should change this year as the coronavirus infects more people.
So should residents’ annual Black Friday shopping spree.
Amanda Robison-Chadwell, the Bell County Public Health District director, said this week she advised against in-person shopping for the kickoff for Christmas gift browsing.
“It’s a terrible, terrible, terrible idea to participate in normal Black Friday shopping,” the county’s top public health official said. “I suggest strong-ly that people use online shopping as an alternative.”
Robison-Chadwell has good reason to advise that: Bell County is in the middle of its third wave of COVID-19 infections. At least 1,242 people currently have the coronavirus, according to the health district.
The county also set its single highest daily increase this week when 210 new infections were reported Monday, according to local health data. The previous high was set on July 14 when 162 cases were reported.
Many retailers have decided not to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, now considered the start of Black Friday shopping. Locally that includes Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Academy Sports + Outdoors, JCPenney and Kohl’s.
Stores will reopen this morning.
Robison-Chadwell offered advice for residents who still want to shop in person. Her advice will sound familiar.
“If people insist on going out and shopping in person (wear a) mask, keep physical distance, don’t touch your face with unwashed hands. If you have any signs of illness at all, please stay home,” she said.
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, chills, cough, fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, sore throat, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal congestion, and a loss of taste or smell.
The health district director stressed residents should avoid touching their faces and wash their hands frequently if they decide to begin holiday shopping this weekend. She pointed out that items they may pick up likely have been touched by many other people.
“Surface contamination is not as significant a mode of transmission as in-person contact, but it can be a factor, according to the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” Robison-Chadwell said. “Also, proper use of masks is essential. Make sure it is over your mouth and nose properly.”
Stick to shopping online for the holidays as the pandemic continues, Robison-Chadwell said.
“There are a lot of great online deals for the holidays this year and I strongly urge people to please take advantage of those things instead,” she said. “Gathering is a terrible idea under these circumstances. Hospitals are already under stress due to this recent surge. Let’s please do our health care workers a favor and not make this worse.”