Safely Entering Phase Yellow

Hannah Starcher, B.A.

The weather has been heating up in Pittsburgh. Between the sunshine, rain showers, and green foliage everywhere you turn, it certainly feels like summer. However, we don’t believe that any of us have experienced the end of spring quite like this. As we enter phase yellow - and the beginning of summer - it is important to remember that there are still significant guidelines that we should follow to continue preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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Phase yellow shows a positive step in the right direction. This phase demonstrates that we have taken the safety of our communities into consideration, and we’ve followed orders well enough to slowly start opening the economy back up again. While exciting, we need to remember why it is that we are able to enter phase yellow in the first place. Continue to wear a mask around groups of people. Remember, it’s for them, not for you. Wash your hands with soapy water for 20 seconds any time you come into contact with high-touch surface areas. Carry hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you know that you’ll be out and about without access to bathroom. Always cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze, and simply do your best to stay distant from other individuals when you’re in public. There is still so much that we are unsure of when it comes to COVID-19. Let’s continue keeping those around us safe. It’s a group effort.    


Wearing a mask is important, but only if it is being sanitized properly. Germs will latch on to the fabric of your face mask, which means that you’ll be carrying and inhaling those same germs. It is important to wash your mask daily if you are wearing it out every day. Here are a few different ways that you can keep your mask clean.

  • The first recommended approach is machine washing the mask on the hottest setting cycle. You can use detergents or soap.
  • The second approach is scrubbing it with soap and hot water (The World Health Organization has said that they’ve found 132.8 degrees Farenheit is hot enough to kill the SARS coronavirus, so do with that information what you will).
  • The third and final approach is boiling the mask for several minutes, occasionally swirling.

After your mask has been cleaned, sanitize yourself (if you’ve hand washed), or whatever pot you’ve used (if you’ve boiled).


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It may go without saying, but if you develop any symptoms, such as a fever or shortness of breath, you should wait at least 10 days after your symptoms have improved to come into contact with other humans. It is beneficial to get yourself tested, regardless of whether or not you exhibit any of the symptoms. As it continues to heat up outside, more and more people will be spending time with each other publicly. It is crucial to remain smart in order to ensure the safety of those around you. If you feel sick or are worried that you may have come into contact with the virus, stay home.

We hope that you continue to enjoy the weather and your time outside. We urge you to remain tenacious in the fight to protect your neighbors, friends, and loved ones. Things may never be the “normal” that they once were, but we will adapt and change as we always do. We will get through this together. Continue to stay strong, healthy and active, and know that you’re doing great.

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