Your COVID-19 Update – The Second Wave

It is almost November and snow is falling in a few provinces, indicating that Winter is just around the corner. Unfortunately, we are now enduring our second wave of the Pandemic, with some provinces being hit harder than others. 

 For example, in my province of Manitoba, our case numbers are steadily rising with our average of cases per day in the triple digits. Ontario and Quebec’s cases per day are between 800 and 1000. The numbers are increasing while our fear and anxiety about getting the virus builds. 

 Right now, it’s a scary time, but I’ve learned that fear comes from the unknown, therefore, the more you know the better prepared you’ll be and the less fearful and anxious you’ll be. This post will update you on the Coronavirus, explain the reasons for the second wave, and what you can do to keep you, your team, and especially your patients safe. 

The second wave 

What do all the health experts mean by a second wave? It means a sudden influx in cases across the country, and in this case, across the world (Some, like the US, are already in their third wave). For a while, we were doing okay, with our case numbers coming down, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer deaths.   

Then, we hit flu season, in addition to reducing restrictions, and we started breaking terrifying records across the country. Manitoba was almost at zero active cases, now the province is at over eighteen hundred.  

Is it going to be worse than the first wave? With flu season on top of COVID-19, a worse second wave is possible. With everyone being more inclined to stay in, the spread of the virus goes up than if we gather outside. This, on top of COVID fatigue (yes, this is a thing), can lead us into a very dark Winter. 

However, of all the articles I’ve read on the subject, my takeaway is this: if we can follow the guidelines of social distancing, wearing masks in public places, avoiding non-essential travel, and limiting our gatherings, we will be able to slow the spread and flatten the curve the way we had done before. All without shutting down the entire economy again. Below are just a few more ways you can keep yourself, your team, and your patients safe during this second wave.  

How to stay safe 

Don’t become complacent 

As we continue living our lives and working with all the new guidelines in place, we need to remember that we can’t be complacent. Even if we believe things are getting better, that’s even more of a reason to stick to the strict guidelines, not just for yourself but your patients.  

Don’t get sucked into the misinformation 

Misinformation can be enticing, mainly because it’s everywhere – on some of our favourite platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. But if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Never take any information as fact until you can discover just who’s trying to sell you the information and what the motive might be behind it. And once you do that, you will be able to figure out whether the information you’re seeing out there is fact or fiction.   

When it comes to information regarding COVID-19, stick to reputable sources, such as your provincial websites, the WHO, and valid news outlets that you can trust. 

Wear the mask properly 

Most people I see are wearing masks, but it’s not so much the mask-wearing that’s the problem, it’s the inability to wear the mask properly. Many masks I’ve come across cover both the mouth and the nose; however, there are some masks that slip down off the nose.  

It’s not safe or sanitary to have to constantly touch your mask in order to pull it over your nose. Make sure that when you are ordering masks, those masks are designed to cover both the mouth and the nose easily and securely 

Require proper mask-wearing in your office 

In provinces and cities across the country, masks are mandated, but a lot of places have not done this, leaving it to the businesses to make mask-wearing mandatory. If you are in one of those cities or provinces, do require your staff and your patients to wear a mask inside the office. This will not only help to protect them, but it will protect you and your team as well. 

The fact is, “Masks for everyday use…” such as cloth masks, “these masks grant no protection for the user from being infected. However, it is safe to assume there is a small risk reduction for droplet transmission, especially during exhalation, resulting in a reduction of potential viral spread.  

However, they do nothing if the patient is constantly touching the mask in order to cover their nose. Be very aware of people like this, as this is works just as well as not wearing a mask at all. 

Reduce touchpoints 

Reducing touchpoints in your office allows for your team and patients to feel safer. This means removing anything that might require you, your patients or your team to have to handle items or objects that can’t be easily sprayed down and sanitized. This includes paper forms, receipts, questionnaires, appointment cards, etc.  

Look into digital options that will help you reduce these commonly used touchpoints and make your office safer for everyone. 

Reduce the number of people in your office 

Some dental offices have already limited the number of patients in the office, with many asking patients to wait outside in their cars until they receive a text letting them know that their room is ready.  

Reducing the number of patients in your office allows for fewer people milling around in the waiting room, but if your office insists that your patients should wait in the waiting room, remove couches and make sure the chairs are six feet apart. Also, make sure everyone is wearing a mask (properly), and remove any toys or models. 

Download the COVID-19 App 

If you don’t yet have the COVID-19 app, get it. I already did! This app is free and provides you with information you need to know every time you go out, including if you come in contact with anyone who is COVID positive.  

How the app works: 

1. Download the app on your phone 

2. The app lets you know of any possible exposures by both phones exchanging random codes and alerting you of the exposure before symptoms appear. 

3. If you are exposed, you will receive a notification and a prompt to contact your doctor for a test.  

4. If you are the one positive, you will receive a code from your health care professional to add to the app. 

For more information on this app, check out the link below and help your community, your city, your province, and the rest of the country reduce the spread of COVID-19: 

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/covid-alert.html 

I know how scary a time this is. I have done very little these past six months, having talked to friends about my lack of going out to attend socials, attend conventions (4 of which I’ve had to cancel), and do anything even remotely related to Summer or Fall fun. And wherever I go, I wear a mask to protect those around me.  

I want to be a part of the solution, not the problem, which is why I make these sacrifices. I make them for my friends, my family, and my community. The only way we’ll move forward into a possible normal is to work together.  

In my next post, I’ll discuss just what you can do to ramp up your patient education topics and techniques during this stressful time. I wish you all well and I hope you will all stay safe, wear masks, and take care of each other. 

Resources 

https://oda.ca/156-you-and-your-dentist/478-covid-19-updates-from-the-oda 

https://files.cdha.ca/NewsEvents/tag/2020/Response_to_WHO_recommendations_Aug_14_FINAL.pdf 

https://www.dentalhealthalberta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Dental-Practice-Guidelines-during-the-COVID-19-Pandemic-2020-08-01.pdf 

https://www.dentaltown.com/magazine/article/8094/dental-practices-and-covid-19?utm_source=podcast&utm_medium=footer&utm_campaign=related 

https://www.dentaltown.com/blog/post/14691/bounce-back-into-2021-3-ways-to-prepare-your-practice-for-the-new-year 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/coronavirus-canada-second-wave-lockdown-1.5748106 

https://eurjmedres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40001-020-00430-5 

https://coronavirus.dental-tribune.com/news/the-dental-hygienist-in-times-of-covid-19/ 

http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/about/covid-19/action/updates/