Georges BenjaminYou can enjoy and safely mark this Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, by continuing to take precautions during the COVID-19 epidemic while remembering the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives to defend our freedoms.

“For many, this weekend has always been a time for being with family and friends, hanging out near a pool, hosting barbecues, visiting parks or going to the beach,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “But this year will have to be different." Benjamin said everyone can and should do their part to help halt the spread of COVID-19."

"We urge people to celebrate the holiday with the same warmth and respect that we always have," he said. "But we must take extra care — by maintaining a safe distance from each other, at least six feet, wearing masks when appropriate and washing our hands more frequently, which is always a good infection-control habit.” By following these simple steps, “we can reduce the spread of the virus,” Benjamin said.

“In that way, we show care for ourselves and loved ones and honor those who served and whose lives we commemorate. On this special Memorial Day, as we honor fallen war heroes, we also pay tribute to the frontline public health workers, including fallen doctors, nurses and other health providers in this fight against COVID-19," said Benjamin, who served in the Army and was chief of emergency medicine at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

While many states have begun lifting restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus outbreak, the public is cautioned that increased activity could put them at risk for a new surge of infections. Americans are advised to check with their local and state health departments as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest guidance.

Note: As you think of the summer ahead, be sure to check out next week’s COVID-19 Conversations Webinar “Summer of COVID-19 — Mitigating Direct and Indirect Impacts in the Coming Months” brought to you by APHA and the National Academy of Medicine. Registration opens today at COVID19Conversations.org.