As government officials start the reopening of cities and business, you may be wondering if it is safe for you to start doing the activities you were participating in pre-COVID-19. It is more important than ever that you are following CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The main things you can do to help prevent the spread are wash your hands frequently, wear a mask in public settings and maintain social distancing. However, in some business and locations maintaining the recommend 6 feet of distance is difficult. We’ll break down the risk levels of getting COVID-19 based on activity. And remember, you should always wear a mask if you are interacting with people outside your home. Wearing a mask significantly reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19.
What questions should you ask?
Before you start venturing into public settings, there are some questions you should ask yourself. The CDC recommends you ask yourself these eight questions before you go somewhere:
- Is COVID-19 actively spreading in my community? If your city or state is a hotspot, you may want to reconsider going somewhere. For a better understanding of your state’s current cases, view the CDC’s map of cases and deaths by state.
- What are the local orders in my city? Each city may have different rules and regulations. Stay up to date with your local health department’s orders to make sure you are following all the mandatory regulations.
- Will my activity put me in close contact with others? Before you venture out ask yourself if you can maintain the recommended 6 feet of distance. If not, you may want to consider other options.
- Am I at risk for severe illness? Those with serious underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart conditions, chronic kidney disease or obesity, are more at risk of complications due to COVID-19. However, everyone faces some risk of illness. You may not experience any symptoms while others may get severely ill.
- Do I live with someone who is at risk for severe illness? You should take extra precaution if you live with someone with underlying medical conditions. You may unknowingly pass COVID-19 onto them.
- Will you have to share any items, equipment or tools with others? Choose places where there is limited sharing. Or if there is a need to share items, check to see what cleaning and disinfecting policies are in place.
- Will you need to take public transportation to get there? You will be in close contact with others if you take public transportation, and this adds risk to your activity.
- If you get COVID-19, will you have to miss work or school? You should be up to date on your work or school’s absence/sick leave policy. Do you have enough days built up to take this leave without consequences?
What are low-risk activities?
Activities with lower risk are ones where you can still maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing between you and others. Additionally, activities that are outside decrease your risk of catching COVID-19. Interacting without a face mask will increase your risk. Some lower risk activities include:
- Getting take-out
- Exercising outside
- Pumping gas – Be sure to use hand sanitizer after you handle the pump.
- Going on a run, walk or bike ride with a few others – If anyone feels sick, they should not join in the activity.
- Waiting in a doctor’s office waiting room – Before you visit, ask if they have the waiting room chairs spaced out. Here are some of the safety measures Ochsner has in place.
What are moderate risk activities?
Activities are moderate risk when you are increasing your exposure with other individuals but can maintain social distancing. Additionally, activities that are indoors with less ventilation will increase your risk level. Some moderate risk activities include:
- Going to the grocery store – Try to go at times when you think there will be less people shopping. Always wear your mask.
- Eating outdoors at a restaurant – Before you go, call the restaurant and see how they have their seating spaced out and if the waiting staff will be wearing masks.
- Shopping at a mall
- Going to a small dinner party at someone’s house
- Going to the beach – Follow proper precautions when going to the beach.
- Swimming in a public pool – Make sure you follow proper precautions when using a public pool.
- Getting your hair cut – Call your salon or barber shop before your appointment and ask what guidelines they have in place. Ask if the stylist and clients are required to wear masks and ask if they have decreased the number of clients seen at one time.
What are high risk activities?
Activities are high risk when you are in shared, closed or confined areas, where there is little to no social distancing and you are in contact with multiple people you do not know. Your risk is amplified even more when there is no mask wearing. Some higher risk activities include:
- Going to a bar
- Eating at a buffet
- Going to a large music concert
- Going to the movie theater
If you are feeling unwell, avoid all activity and social distance at home. If you do venture out, stay up to date with all rules and regulations to ensure you are staying as safe as possible.
For more information on COVID-19, visit ochsner.org/coronavirus
The information in this blog post is accurate at the time of publication. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change, it's possible that information has changed since being published. While Ochsner Health is trying to keep our blog posts as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC website.