TAMPA, Fla. - After weeks of quarantine, the urge to get out and enjoy life is real. But which activities bring more risk of getting COVID-19, relative to others?
There is no coronavirus vaccine and here is no such thing as zero-risk. New infections and deaths are still happening every day.
But how risky is it to dine-in at a restaurant or get your hair done or head to church?
Any time you go out in public, there is a chance you can become infected with COVID-19. There are ways you can protect your health. It’s a personal decision and a personal responsibility.
“Assume that the thing is there, and even if you are not at high risk of getting it, you can still carry it and you can transmit it to others,” explained
Dr. Jay Wolfson, the senior associate dean of the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, says there are some common-sense precautions to lower that risk.
“To avoid crowded places, to avoid groups of 10 people or more who you don’t know. To wash your hands a lot, to not touch your face, to wear a mask when you’re outside with other people,” Wolfson described.
Heading to the beach, park or pool for the day can be relatively low risk since you are outside and there is no evidence you can contract the virus from water. Wolfson urges staying six to 10 feet away from people and to plan ahead to prevent unnecessary close contact with others.
“Avoid having to stop and buy things that you might need on the side, bring it with you so you avoid interacting with people you don’t know in crowded places,” he said.
At gyms, there are more droplets from people working up a sweat and breathing hard, so frequent sanitizing is key to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
Going shopping can also be a risky activity, because people tend to stop frequently and handle items.
“If you are going to a store and you’re looking to buy clothing or electronics goods, be careful what you touch because other people may have touched it,” said Woflson. “You may want to bring hand sanitizer with you.”
Going out to eat, getting your hair done, even heading to an indoor religious service can all pose a higher risk for spreading and catching COVID-19. Woflson recommends considering multiple factors for each business, and how well it has adapted to the pandemic.
“So places where the ventilation is not very good, and there a crowded people spending more time at, that place are higher risks,” he said. “The less time that people spend at a location, the more ventilation there is, the farther apart people are, the lower the risk.”
Health experts say there is a good chance we will have a second wave of COVID-19 later this year. Instead of being complacent, Wolfson says we should all continue washing our hands, maintain physical distancing at all times, and avoid crowds.