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Doctors rank the activities most likely to spread the coronavirus

Published Jun 6th, 2020 11:03AM EDT
Coronavirus Update
Image: Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock

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  • After a nearly three-month lockdown due to the coronavirus, states are starting to reopen.
  • As life starts to return to normal, there is still a range of activities individuals might want to avoid.
  • Some activities which have an inherently high risk of spreading the coronavirus include drinking in a bar, music concerts, buffets, and physical sports like basketball.

Walking outside in Chicago earlier today, the landscape looked markedly different than it did just a few weeks ago. Foot traffic has returned, barbershops are open, and people are flocking back to bars and restaurants. Chicago, of course, is not alone. Over the past few days, a number of cities have loosened up stay-at-home directives as states begin to slowly but surely reopen. Even Las Vegas this week returned to a semblance of normalcy, with tourists swarming casinos and restaurants en masse, albeit with masks now.

The coronavirus pandemic, however, remains an ongoing concern. And though the virus already peaked in a number of major U.S. cities, it’s important to remain vigilant and adhere to social distancing guidelines as to prevent a second wave from gaining a foothold.

With the country now opening back up, MLive recently talked to four doctors — each of whom has a background in infectious disease and prevention — in order to glean what type of places and activities individuals might want to steer clear of for the time being.

The doctors pointed to five factors, when considering how risky a given activity might be: Whether it’s inside or outside; proximity to others; exposure time; likelihood of compliance; and personal risk level.

Outdoor activities are generally safer, they said, because the virus becomes less concentrated outside and doesn’t get recirculated around like it could indoors.

Beyond that, the doctors assembled a list of 36 recreational activities and ranked them by their associated coronavirus risk. And the most high-risk activity, not surprisingly, is drinking in a bar. Aside from the fact that bars tend to pack people in, people are less liable to adhere to safety guidelines while intoxicated. One doctor in particular said bars represent a 10/10 in terms of risk.

Other activities the doctors cautioned to avoid include large music concerts, sports stadiums, gyms, and amusement parks. In effect, any outdoor or indoor location that tends to have a high density of people can be a breeding ground for the coronavirus to spread.

One frequently asked question involves the safety associated with flying. To this end, airplanes were given a risk rating of 5/10. Interestingly, there wasn’t exactly a consensus on the issue:

There were varying opinions on the safety of flying in an airplane during a pandemic – two experts called it medium risk, one said it’s low risk and the other side it’s high risk.

There’s a lot up in the air, regarding what precautions might become standard for airlines – from masking to eliminating the middle seat to wiping down surfaces.

“That’s actually pretty safe, the air is very well filtered on airplanes,” Cunningham said. “As long as someone’s not obviously sick, I’m going to give that a 3.”

Emig said the issue is most people don’t wear masks correctly. And plane trips can bunch lots of people together for long periods of time – which is why she believes airplanes are higher risk.

If you’re at all curious about how safe other activities are, whether it’s going to the beach or attending a backyard barbecue, you’ll definitely want to take a look at the full list over here.

On a related note, the CDC director recently said that people in the U.S. aren’t taking the coronavirus seriously anymore.

“We’re very concerned that our public health message isn’t resonating,” Robert Redfield said this week. “We continue to try to figure out how to penetrate the message with different groups.”

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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