(CNN) – Even if we escape coronavirus infection, we are all tired of staying home, socializing and wearing masks. While the numbers of cases and deaths from Covid-19 tend to decrease, this is not the time to give up on your bodyguard. These are not normal days. These new days invite us to make decisions with limited and sophisticated information. The coronavirus is still circulating.
As a doctor who has practiced for more than 30 years, I find myself faced with the decisions regarding safe outdoor recreation with some fear. The decision to go to the beach, pool or park was very simple before – now, not much.
On the one hand, there is a lot of information, some of which are conflicting and much of it is full of political ideology. On the other hand, there is a lack of information – the “novel” of the new Corona virus means that it is new and there is not much we know. While it’s still true as ever that there are tremendous benefits to going outside these days, it’s also true that there are risks to yourself and others in doing so.
Sunbathing woman at Huntington Beach, California, on April 25, 2020.
APU GOMES / AFP via Getty Images
How do you decide if you and your loved ones can go hiking, beach or swimming? Let’s start with some facts that we already know. We know the virus can be carried without symptoms, and we know that people are at risk of developing disproportionately serious complications.
We scientists and doctors do not yet know whether the presence of antibodies indicates immunity, so a positive antibody test does not mean that you are okay. We know that the number of virus particles you are exposed to and the duration of exposure are vital factors that determine the risk of transmission.
Also, at least one pre-print study, which was not peer-reviewed, found that the risk of exposure to the outdoors is much lower than that at home.
Visitors wear face masks at Joshua Tree National Park, California, on May 18, 2020. Wearing masks and separating at least six feet is still important.
Mario Tama / Getty Images
But I want to be outside
Now that almost all states have opened a reserve to varying degrees, it is important to remember that the virus still exists. The risk of getting an infection when passing by a fairly fast runner or biker is not terribly high, at least in the absence of sneezing or coughing, but rather less at a distance. Unilateral activities transport fewer particles than team sports or horse-riding in the pool.
Going alone or just with people in your quarantine bubble will reduce your risks. Being close to people outside your bubble means you should wear a suitable mask to protect others.
The Stone Bubble is an abbreviation of a small group of friends that you may choose to meet with those who have followed their social spacing guidelines and who you know are in good health. However, the safety of your bubble is just as good as the agreement between members to follow safety measures outside the bubble.
Look at the logistics for your plan. It is worth splitting your intended activity into basic steps.
How will you get there? Remember that public transportation and air travel are still very risky. If you are driving on a motorway or highway, remember that you may need to stop for the rest of the bathroom. In a “better than sorry” spirit, if you travel long distances by car, bring your food and water as well as a hygiene kit that includes napkins, paper towels, travel soap and antiseptic.
What will I need while you are? Consider the need for a rest bath, food and water, and your ability to wash hands and keep distance. Bathrooms and changing rooms are full of “high touch” surfaces, and while specific information is lacking, early evidence shows the virus remains on surfaces. Public baths should be treated as high-risk areas and keep in mind that many of them may not be open.
A basin in a bathroom in Allen, Texas was closed on May 1, 2020 to force social separation.
Ronald Martinez / Getty Images
Once you reach your destination, remember the basics of coronavirus.
Keep at least six feet.
• Wash and sterilize your hands frequently – definitely after touching any common surface.
Keep your hands away from your face.
• Wear a mask.
• If you are in a park, walk or lift an individual file and leave space for others to pass over a safe distance.
Consider going outside peak hours and less popular locations.
• If you go to the beach, you still need to wear a mask. And keep your distance.
• If going to the pool, remember that although there is no evidence of water circulating through the treatment that was treated according to the recommendations, common areas require moving away, masks and other usual precautions.
Remember the real estate saying “location, location, location”. The spread of the virus and the slope – whether the situations are rising or falling – in your area. Also, the availability of tests and hospital beds in your area are matters to consider.
You should consider the regulations and laws in your area, knowing that they may not reflect public health guidelines. If in doubt, err on the side of protection.
Factors beyond your control
Finally, there is a rigid paper to know what the people around you will do to protect you as you decide how to protect yourself and your loved ones while they are. Would they respect your space and wear masks? The last word in outdoor recreation? Of course, go out and be active. It is important for your mental and physical health. However, choose wisely, prepare and be safe.
Claudia Finkelstein is Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Michigan State University.