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Editorial: Take precautions during Fourth of July gatherings

The Fourth of July is typically a time to enjoy the company of family and friends and maybe a freshly grilled meal in addition to celebrating the birth of our nation.

People fire up their grills, find someone with a boat to enjoy an afternoon on the lake, watch fireworks or, especially if you’re in Faith, find a prime spot to watch a parade.

But this is no typical year. People should take precautions and avoid gathering in large groups. Otherwise, the community could be in for a spike in cases in about two weeks, the maximum length of time during which symptoms may appear.

Every day, the public hears about rising case numbers, and they can seem distant to those not directly affected. Lots of people have seen their lives change because of the economic effects of COVID-19 shutdowns; far fewer people have tested positive for the virus. As a result, those without health conditions or in an advanced age bracket might shun precautions because they’re not worried about catching a severe case. This is a moment, though, where people don’t need to take precautions only for themselves. Wearing a mask, for example, is just as much about protecting people nearby. If you’re asymptomatic, the person you infect could pass COVID-19 along to someone who is at higher risk for a severe case.

Commonsense precautions we’re already familiar with include wearing a mask, washing your hands or using hand sanitizer frequently and staying 6 feet or more apart from strangers.

Limits that keep indoor gatherings below 10 people and outdoor ones below 25, meanwhile, aren’t hard and fast rules. A gathering of five people is just as worrisome as a group of 10 if one person has COVID-19.

Those who decide to host a gathering of family and friends, should also follow a few precautions suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC’s precautions include:

• Reminding guests to stay home if sick or had close contact with someone who is.

• Encouraging social distancing by hosting gatherings outdoors when possible or a well-ventilated space (open a window).

• Wave and verbally greet guests instead of giving hugs.

• Limit the number of people handling or serving food and the number of people going in and out of areas where food is being prepared.

• Avoid using shared items like food containers.

• And, of course, thoroughly clean and disinfect anything used during the gathering.

• Keep a list of attendees in case there is a positive case later.

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