- Experts say as businesses and public places reopen, it’s important to think about places where the risk of contracting the new coronavirus is still low.
- Places like beaches and campsites can be safe as long as everyone there wears masks, practices physical distancing, and washes their hands.
- Experts say gatherings in backyards or picnic areas can be safe as long as everyone adheres to safety protocols.
With all 50 states in the process of reopening their economies, now might be a good time to take a look at the safest places to go and measures to take to prevent infection.
Even as many places have flattened their curves, a second wave of the pandemic is possible and perhaps even likely.
In the absence of a vaccine or herd immunity, that means older adults and people who are immunocompromised or otherwise at high risk need to stay vigilant.
Here are some of the places you’re least likely to contract the new coronavirus and how you can lower your risk even further.
In terms of overall risk, being at home with limited contact with others, besides the people living with you, is the safest place to be.
That should come as no surprise, as most Americans are emerging from a multi-month lockdown designed to keep the pandemic from spinning out of control.
“There are no low-risk places other than home,” said Natalia Linos, the executive director for the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, a former epidemiologist, and a candidate for Congress in Massachusetts.
“But, of course, people are beginning to ‘rank their risk,’ and when thinking about lessons learned from other health challenges, harm reduction is an important strategy.
The social isolation and mental health toll, for example, is not well understood, and if people feel like they need to see a friend, it would probably be wiser to do it outside and 6 feet apart than indoors,” Linos told Healthline.
But if you’re getting stir-crazy being inside most of the time, the good news is there’s a growing expert consensus that going outside is safe — as long as you remain physically distanced from other people.
One study from China, which is pending peer review, found that of more than 7,000 COVID-19 cases, only one transmission could be traced to the outdoors.
So go ahead and pitch a tent, go for a hike, or even lounge at the beach. Just be careful about staying 6 feet from people not in your immediate circle.
“Remember that it is how close you are and for how long that is most important for transmission — so if you have to be close to someone, pass by quickly,” Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease professor at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, told Healthline.
She also recommends vigorous handwashing and wearing a mask if you’re going to be interacting with people not in your household.
As long as someone from outside your household isn’t getting in your vehicle, your car is like a mini home sanctuary that actually goes places.
Because of this, the handful of drive-in movie theaters that remain in the United States may make a comeback, CNBC reports.
If you’ve got one near you, it might be time to make a pilgrimage.
Just remember to bring your own popcorn.
Your office — if it’s enclosed, has a door, and is well ventilated — can be a low-risk place to be, says Marty.
But that’s only if you’re the only person coming and going, or if it’s cleaned thoroughly each time anyone goes in or out.
Either way, “Keep your space as clean as possible, avoid directly touching heavily touched objects like light switches or doorknobs, and clean [them] or use a barrier (glove, paper towel, etc.),” Marty said.
If you’re getting tired of the same four walls and roof, a vacation home can be a low-risk place to get away to as long as you practice the same safety precautions you do at home once you get there.
That is, limit your exposure to other people, wash hands frequently, avoid touching your face, wear a mask, and maintain physical distancing.
You can even vacation with another family, as long as you’re confident that they’ve been practicing the same level of safety measures and limited contact that your household has, and you’re all on the same page about acceptable risk, experts told NPR.
As the summer months approach, many Americans might be worried they’ll have to miss the social pleasure of a sunny backyard barbecue in favor of pandemic safety, but it’s possible to make this a low-risk affair.
For one thing, it’s outdoors. As long as you keep your party small — think one other family, and certainly fewer than 10 people — and everyone brings their own food, drinks, plates, and utensils, and maintains physical distancing, it can be a safe activity that scratches that social itch, Marty says.
“It really is all about how many other people are near you, how much talking, singing, or shouting there is, how many are sneezing or coughing,” she said.
Don’t play the music too loud, for instance, since loud music makes people talk louder, which can increase the potential for spread.
In addition, “do not shake hands, fist bump, hug, or otherwise come into physical contact with people who are not part of your household,” Marty said.
“Remember, it is not all about you when you take risky actions, but the loved ones in your life who may be more vulnerable because of their age or underlying conditions,” she said.