Which summer activities come with the highest risk of getting COVID-19?
Summer is here, and COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere.
The virus still threatens public health as people venture out to enjoy the season with family and friends. Increased contact with others could cause positive cases to rise along with the temperatures.
Dr. Hammad Haider-Shah, chief medical officer with Aurora Health Care, offers this basic rule of thumb: Activities with fewer people in larger places have a lower risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus. The more people in a smaller space, the higher the risk.
Using that knowledge, we put these summertime activities under the microscope.
Flying poses a significantly higher risk of spreading the virus. Even with fewer flyers, airports can create bottleneck crowds, and planes are spacious yet compact, making it difficult for passengers to stay six feet apart. If you must fly, Dr. Haider-Shah recommends wearing a mask, keeping hand sanitizer handy and wiping down seats and surfaces near you.
Road trips offer a lower risk. Cars contain small groups of people that likely know each other. Also, almost all hotels have stringent sanitary guidelines to keep guests safe from the virus.
“Are you breathing the same air as other people directly around you? If the answer is yes, then the smaller the group, generally the safer the activity,” Dr. Haider-Shah says.
Restaurants and bars are open for business in Wisconsin, and many places in Illinois are offering outdoor dining. But should you walk through that door? Dr. Haider-Shah says skip the corner table and dine al fresco.
“Eating outdoors is much safer than indoors, because there’s natural open air and its easier to maintain social distancing from other diners. Plus, the weather is nice, so enjoy it while you can,” said Dr. Haider-Shah.
Summer is full of camps and club teams galore. Dr. Haider-Shah says it comes down to the name of the game. Full or close contact sports like football, baseball, soccer and basketball have a higher risk of transmitting the virus. Sports like golf and tennis are safer, because there is limited contact and athletes are often feet or yards apart from each other.
Biking, walking, and hiking are relatively low-risk activities. It’s easier to control your surroundings while in nature, and wide-open spaces can naturally limit your interactions with others.
“If you maintain social distancing, getting outside to exercise is totally safe and I highly encourage it,” said Dr. Haider-Shah.
Hosting your parents is one thing. Weddings, graduation parties and family reunions are another. Once again, Dr. Haider-Shah says that the longer the guest list, the higher the risk.
“For large families accustomed to coming together, it’s tough, but try and get creative. Schedule visits from smaller groups of family throughout the summer and use technology to stay connected as much as you can,” said Dr. Haider Shah.
For more information, check out our COVID-19 Resource Center.
About the Author
Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.