Typically June is a month for family vacations, swimming, trips to amusement parks and visiting new restaurants, but COVID-19 has changed the way people think about safe activities for families. People may ask: • Can we still play sports or go to events and be safe? • Is wearing a face mask enough protection? • Should we stay out of the pool and stay home? “This summer definitely is unlike previous ones,” said Dr. Raghu Adiga, chief medical officer and infectious disease specialist at Liberty Hospital. “We are looking at a new normal when it comes to safety, and balance is the key.” Few people are likely to want to spend their summer indoors at home. Balance means adhering to guidelines that keep people safe and weighing the benefits of social interactions that come with this time of year. The key is to think about who is at risk and who poses a risk to others. “The elderly population is most at risk, and younger people as well as others may be asymptomatic carriers,” Adiga said. “That means maintaining some physical distance between families and friends from separate households, like children and grandparents. Using technology to connect or visiting outside with proper social distancing are good alternatives.” According to Adiga, four factors that influence the spread of COVID-19 include distance, activity, environment and duration of exposure. “When people cough, sneeze and even speak, they can expel thousands of droplets, which may contain the coronavirus if they have it. Larger droplets will fall to the ground within 3 to 6 feet, which is why we recommend 6 feet of distance. However, when we exercise, sing or breathe faster in addition to coughing or sneezing, we can also spread smaller airborne droplets that may linger in stagnant air for several minutes to hours.” Those are the reasons why best precautions are to continue wearing masks and maintaining social distance. “Masks are not just to protect yourself, but more to protect others from you, especially if you turn out to be an unwitting, asymptomatic carrier,” Adiga said. “Universal masking prevents the spread of the virus. The more people forego wearing masks, the greater the risk becomes for viral spread.” The standard advice continues to hold true: Wear a mask inside buildings and outside when you could be near other people, wash hands or use hand sanitizer often and do not touch your face, mouth, eyes or nose. When it comes to playing summer sports, attending events and participating in summer activities, follow these guidelines: • Athletes should try to remain socially distanced and use their own equipment, including bats and balls whenever possible. • Swimming is fine, but don’t go when the pool is crowded. Avoid high-touch objects like hand rails, toys, waterpark rafts, etc. • Maintain physical distances and avoid closed, indoor environments whenever possible and choose outdoor events, which allow air to more readily disperse droplets. • Choose restaurants with outdoor seating whenever possible and wear a mask except while eating. • If you must visit an amusement park, wear a mask, use plenty of hand sanitizer and maintain social distance as much as is practical. “Being outside and participating in activities with others can provide great exercise and is good for the body and mind, but should be done carefully,” Adiga said. “Don’t leave home if you are having symptoms such as fever, cough, body aches or if you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.”

Dr. Raghu Adiga

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