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Covid-19 Thoughts Part I - What Shelter Residents Know about Sheltering In

While things are beginning to open back up after the quarantine, we at Bethesda House still encourage all who are returning to their lifestyles to do so with caution, and continue to follow expert guidance and opinion.

As we navigate the ever-changing normal of Covid-19, Bethesda House is becoming a microcosm of our larger community in terms of following recommendations for safety in our home and when we are out and about. What do people who shelter-in all the time have to say about this phenomenon? We think we can contribute to the conversation with a unique understanding of what it means to stay home, wear a mask, and practice social distancing. In this three-part series, we will address each of these concepts individually.

To begin, why shelter-in? Our context matters here. Bethesda House is located in south Alabama, where the restrictions on non-essential businesses have been lifted and mobility has increased significantly since May 1st. When a woman comes into our shelter, she is usually facing what we call the Extreme Safety Period. This segment of time can vary from person to person, but is basically the initial days and weeks after leaving a threatening living environment. The most dangerous time for victims occurs when they are attempting to leave. Once in the shelter, many precautions are put in place to secure the safety of that individual.

As a society, we find ourselves navigating a virtually invisible threat and the notion that we can be exposing others to a coronavirus without even having symptoms can feel a bit like an Extreme Safety Period. That is, the need to be safe in the midst of an unknown predator at a time when we or others around us may be very vulnerable. Remember when we started the lock down and social media was full of memes and advice for sheltering-in? Shelter residents took it all in stride. They could already speak to the many activities one might engage when hanging out at home: movie nights, gardening, playing outside, reading more, cooking more, and even pulling out the dominoes, checkers, and Scrabble.

Now that everyone else (we are still a vulnerable population which needs to limit trips off of the property) will be moving about more freely, we wonder how quickly people will forget the simple pleasures that staying at home afforded them. We encourage others not to fling themselves out into the public too quickly or too often. And when at home, remember to wash hands frequently, wipe down surfaces a couple of times a day, spray soft surfaces with a disinfectant spray (if you can get it!), and take precautions with items being brought into the house. Also, as much as possible, limit who comes into your home to those who live there and require visitors to put on a mask and wash their hands. Continuing to do these things will limit exposure to the virus which causes Covid-19.

- Dr. Alison Jackson-Wood, Executive Director

Stay tuned for Part II – Why Wear a Pesky Mask During a Pandemic?

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