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Masks ‘Do Not Make Up For Social Distancing,’ UChicago Infectious Disease Experts Say

"It's OK to start broadening our quarantine families just a little bit. But you have to remember ... you're also having contact with all the people they've had contact with."

Infectious disease expert Emily Landon models the proper way to wear a mask on Friday's edition of "At the Forefront" on Facebook Live.
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HYDE PARK — UChicago Medicine infectious disease experts updated the public on the proper ways to wear a mask, the impact of relaxed quarantine rules and when we can expect to return to our “normal” lives during a Q&A session Friday.

Though Gov. JB Pritzker’s updated order loosens some restrictions, residents should still stay home as often as possible, infectious disease experts Emily Landon and Alison Bartlett said during Friday’s edition of At the Forefront on Facebook Live.

Masks — now required to be worn any time you go in public and can’t stay 6 feet from others — “do not make up for social distancing,” Landon said.

“We still need to stay home most of the time. You can add a few activities to your life, get out a little bit more … but we still need distance and masks in order to stay protected,” Landon said.

The safest fabric masks have two layers, cover the nose and mouth and seal to the skin, Landon and Bartlett said. Medical masks should be saved for health care workers, as they still don’t have enough.

With Mother’s Day on May 10, it’s okay to cautiously give your mother a hug, Landon said. She recommended only doing so if you both have been isolating, wash your hands before and after and wear a mask while doing so.

“It’s OK to start broadening our quarantine families just a little bit,” Landon said. “But you have to remember … you’re also having contact with all the people they’ve had contact with.”

For restless children, the safest place to play outside is in an open space, far away from other kids, Bartlett said.

Bartlett urged patience on easing restrictions any further or seeing a vaccine. A return to pre-pandemic life won’t be “as soon as anyone wants, and we need to be prepared to maintain practices in the long haul.”

“My crystal ball is in the shop, unfortunately,” Bartlett joked when asked for a timeline for the end of the pandemic. “Restrictions are going to probably be eased and tightened as the virus continues to spread, and as we learn more about whether infection confers immunity.”

Everyone must act as if anyone could have coronavirus and avoid contact accordingly, Landon said.

“The more freedom we get is going to be dependent on … distance and personal protective equipment,” she said. “There’s nothing Democratic or Republican, conservative or liberal about this virus; it’s biology. We’re not fighting each other, we’re fighting a virus, and you can’t negotiate with that.”

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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