July 31, 2021

Baran-Unland: Practical suggestions for a Phase 4 summer

For many of us, the summer of 2020 will look very different than the summer of 2019 for many of us.

For instance, I won’t be going to Raleigh this August to visit my parents (who are in their 80s) or my daughter, son-in-law or my grandson, who just became a teenager in February.

But we do all understand why it isn’t possible.

Last week, the co-leader of my writer’s group had hoped Phase 4 meant a return to in-person meetings at the Joliet Public Library - until he checked with the library and found virtual is still the way to go for now.

Fortunately, we can engage in many of our pre-pandemic activities - as long as we stay 6-feet apart from people and keep our masks on.

Warm weather tip: keep an extra mask handy, in case the first one gets wet or soiled.

And don’t leave home without the hand sanitizer. Stay stocked on disinfectant wipes. Keep up those good handwashing habits.

These practices will help reduce your risk and the risk of those you love.

Phase 4 combined with the warm weather means I can finally visit the rest of my grandchildren, from a distance.

I’m especially eager to see my new little granddaughter. She was born in March and I’ve seen her just once.

Another granddaughter and I share a birthday in July. She will be four this year and although she won’t be blowing out her candles from my lap, I’m looking forward to singing “happy birthday” to her from the other side of the yard.

Edward Hospital offers more guidance for navigating Phase 4.

Can people get check-ups or annual health screenings?


Safety measures are in place to ensure patients can visit their doctors’ offices safely and minimize their risk, including deep cleaning, staggered appointment times, entrance screenings and socially-distanced waiting areas.

Can people invite friends for a cookout?


It should be safe if the group is small, stays outside, maintains a 6-foot social distance, and all guests bring their own silverware, paper plates and side dishes.

Sharing food increases the chance of transmission.

Can people go to the beach or to the pool?

Only if social distance can be maintained.

Experts say it’s unlikely that anyone will get sick from pool water or even lake or ocean water. The danger lies in getting too close to other people.

If the beach or pool area is packed, neither is a safe place to be.

Should people visit grandparents?

COVID-19 generally hits the senior population harder than other age brackets. So be especially careful if you visit older people who don’t live with you.

An outdoor visit is safest, along with maintaining a 6-foot distance, wearing masks and passing on hugs and kisses for now.

Is it OK to travel?

Driving is safest but it also requires the inevitable fuel and bathroom stops, which increases the risk of illness.

Before traveling, check whether the virus is spreading in the destination community.

Before driving, make sure the vehicle includes masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. Wash hands frequently and pack enough food to minimize stops.