(Ohio) – For Ohio to be able to reduce the impact COVID-19 has on our state, officials say it is crucial that teenagers and young adults, like everyone else, do what they can to protect themselves and others from the virus that causes the disease.
The Ohio Department of Health offers the following guidelines for parents and others to help stress the importance of prevention measures and to address the social challenges that may bring.
• Be empathetic. Let young people know that you understand that they are likely struggling with lack of freedom, restrictions, anxiety, other concerns, or missed parties and celebrations, sporting events, vacations, and social activities. Let them know they can safely express their fears and concerns to you without being judged or ridiculed. Watch for signs that they are struggling or may need more emotional support and contact your healthcare provider with any concerns.
• Explain that, even though lockdown measures have been lifted, COVID-19 is still a threat and it is still important to stay home when sick, practice social distancing of at least 6 feet, wear face coverings when out, and follow standard prevention methods like washing hands frequently or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs, and refraining from touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
• Serve as an example, wearing a face-covering whenever you go out, practicing social distancing and other prevention methods.
• Stress that COVID-19 can be present without symptoms and, even if certain young people do not get seriously ill (or sick at all), they can pass the disease on to more vulnerable people, like grandparents, family members with underlying conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19 complications, or vulnerable friends or even strangers. Share that someone could have an underlying condition that is not obvious, so they should be safe around everyone. Give examples of people in their lives who could be severely impacted if they were to unknowingly pass along the disease.
• Remind them that when practicing social distancing and wearing masks, they also are protecting themselves, their friends, their friends’ families, and even people they don’t know.
• Explain how COVID-19 could affect others in the community and let them know that their preventive actions are saving lives. Use specific examples, if possible, such as risk to family members who work in healthcare; risk to the essential workers who keep them safe, provide for their needs and deliver their packages; or overcrowding of hospitals so care is not available when it might be needed for a friend.
• Remind them that young people are not necessarily immune to COVID-19 complications. Many young people have become seriously ill or died.
• Explain that spending time in crowds (such as on beaches, at parties, or in bars), standing close together in groups, hugging, or sharing drinks increases risk of spreading COVID-19. Stress that there is risk and need for social distancing whether gatherings are indoors or outdoors.
• Give them some independence and leeway to come up with ways to socialize that allow for social distancing, such as video conferencing; watching a movie or playing video games with friends online or over the phone; riding bikes or hiking in areas where social distancing is possible, or spending time with a small group of well-known friends who have been in quarantine (at home without contact with people outside the household) for at least 14 days in a row with little or no chance of exposure to the virus.
• Help them practice gratitude by taking the time to discuss what you are thankful for.
• Ensure they take breaks from news reports about the pandemic and find time for relaxation, meditation, and fun, such as watching a comedy, starting a project, or playing a fun game together.
• Ask them for ways they could to help out or show support to people who are sick or lonely, such as visiting a grandparent via videoconferencing or drive-by or through a window; donating to a food bank; dropping off food for someone who is sick; or other random acts of kindness.
For additional information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov. For answers to your COVID-19 questions, call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).