Make your summer more enjoyable by learning how to manage risks during summer activities.
Right now, there is no such thing as a zero-risk situation. But the great joy of summer is the opportunity for more social occasions, entertainment events, and sporting activities in the open air. The good news is that in the open air there is less risk of airborne COVOID-19 infection. BUT less is not NONE and the risk of infection from high use surfaces and airborne droplets remains.
There is more good news; epidemiologists agree that the risk of non-airborne infection is less than had been thought (CDC May 20, 2020). But it is still there, so the first message is, do not relax your personal hygiene (hand-washing and disinfecting surfaces).
Read our article on The impact of social isolation during Coronavirus pandemic.
We are going to list some of America’s favorite summertime activities. None of them is entirely ‘risk-free’ but we give you an assessment of the relative risks and steps you can take to reduce them still further. Before we do that, we offer some general guidelines. Federal and state regulations are being relaxed to free up both the economy and our personal activities BUT the general rules still apply. Your personal health and that of your loved ones depend on your age, your health, and the precautions you take.
We have based our assessments on the generally accepted criteria that the more enclosed the space, and the greater the number of participants, the greater the risk.
The value of face masks is questionable. In principle, masking is thought to be a positive approach to limiting transmission.
Distancing remains the most significant factor, and while experts argue about the minimum social distance (6ft), everyone agrees that further is better!
Even isolation is not entirely risk-free, but if you cannot avoid being less than 6 feet from someone who is not a member of your household, keep these encounters as rare and as brief as possible.
NOW READ ON.
ALL SPORTING ACTIVITIES are good for us, for our physical and mental welfare. The safest are individual sports such as jogging, cycling, and even walking. Surprisingly swimming is also relatively safe especially in the sea or flowing water. The risks come in shared facilities such as changing areas, public showers, and entries/exits. As always social distancing is the key, even in the water.
Sporting events are a different question. They may be allowed in your state but all crowds put us at greater risk of infection and social distancing is almost impossible. Bear in mind that most infection is airborne and that shouting your support is part of the reason for attending. It is therefore one of the occasions when masking, if not obligatory, is certainly advisable: and not only for your own sake. The greatest risk is at the concentration points of entry and exit. If you don’t carry one with you, keep a hand sanitizer in the auto.
For the same reasons, the more so because religious services are (generally) held in enclosed spaces, social distancing among members of different households is difficult. Singing, like coughing, is a prime means of transmission. The risk is considered high.
A long meal in good company, in your favorite restaurant, might seem an ideal opportunity to relax and try to forget the world outside for just a while. Unfortunately, it is one of the higher risk activities. Whatever the social distancing, if one person in the restaurant is infected a prolonged stay in the same space will increase the risk of infection. The food itself is not a significant factor in transmission but the shared use of cutlery and flatware (and menus) is! AND you may find it difficult to eat whilst wearing a mask! Having a take-out gives you much more control but remember to distance yourself in the queue and keep to the rules when you get home (wash your hands!). In either case, dining alfresco is safer!
Most barbeques are alfresco and if you are entertaining, inherently a lower risk. You still need to maintain social distancing (as a bonus you can keep families on opposite sides of the BBQ fire). Most important is to avoid sharing implements, glasses, etc. You might even consider a “bring your own food and drink, we provide the fire and ambience” event. Just be cautious, alcohol lowers constraints and encourages risk-taking! Having a larger group may depend on your state legislation but a gathering with one other household, family, or neighbors presents a relatively low risk.
Whatever the event, the larger the group the greater the chances that one of the participants may (unknowingly) be infectious (infected and capable of passing the infection on).
Read our article on How to manage the stress during Coronavirus pandemic?
Some events, e.g. weddings can be delayed, others e.g. funerals cannot. At any such event, you should restrict invitations to the limit allowed by local legislation and follow the advice given above. Bear in mind it is in the nature of either event that guests will be accustomed to having extended face-to-face involvement. For this reason, even when held outdoors, events like these are rated as a higher risk.
Three more general considerations to help you make your summer safer.
- Most modern public restrooms are designed to protect users from transferable diseases. They are constructed using hard, easy-clean surfaces but many of these are ‘high touch’. The risk of ‘fecal’ transmission is unproven and, in any case, highly unlikely. Your best protection is thorough hand washing. The risk is considered to be relatively low.
- If you do have guests and they need to use your bathroom, the risk runs two ways. You have a responsibility to both your guests and your family. As far as possible keep all surfaces carefully sanitized and ensure that soap, hand sanitizer, and disposable towels are clearly available. Remember to sanitize door handles and flush mechanisms. During ‘the event’ expect your family to behave like guests!
- The single biggest factor is to avoid contact with anyone who is ‘infectious’. Epidemiologists warn that up to 40% of those who are infectious are ‘asymptomatic’, i.e. neither experience nor display any symptoms of the disease.
Remember, Zero Risk is impossible but follow the guidelines, relax, enjoy the Summer and ‘STAY SAFE”