With the weather finally starting to warm up, runners are once again flocking to streets, trails, and parks to get their mileage in. And while running in and of itself is an incredibly safe activity to enjoy in the midst of a global pandemic, the calculus changes a bit when you start talking about congested trails or streets jam-packed with runners, walkers, and pedestrians.
If you’re out for a run, or even in an area that tends to be frequented by masses of runners, you’ll want to make sure that you wear a mask and adhere to social distancing as much as possible. The reason, in short, is that being surrounded by runners can increase your chances of contracting the coronavirus, according to recent remarks made by Trish Greenhalgh of Oxford University earlier this month.
The rationale is simply that most people who contract the coronavirus are asymptomatic but can still spread the virus to others. In the case of runners, when one takes into account heavy breathing and the more forceful expulsion of particles into the air, the risk of infection naturally increases.
“There is no doubt the virus is in the air,” Greenhalgh said. “There is no doubt you can catch it if you inhale air that someone else has exhaled.”
Greenhalgh added that 40% of people who come down with the coronavirus caught it from someone who experienced no symptoms.
“So you’re jogging along, you think you’re fine, and then the next day you develop symptoms of COVID, but you’ve actually breathed that COVID onto someone perhaps you know, an old lady walking a dog or something like that,” Greenhalgh went on to to say.
Does this mean that people should avoid the outdoors? Hardly. If anything, it’s far easier for the coronavirus to spread indoors than outside. Still, if you’re going to be outside and surrounded by people constantly running past you and around you, you’d be well-advised to mask up as a precautionary measure. Of course, if you’re off in a park with a lot of space, or on an isolated trail, you’re probably okay to run or stroll around maskless.
While the notion of running outdoors with a mask seems foolish to many people, it’s important to maintain safety measures so that the COVID-19 infection rate continues to drop. Over the last two weeks alone, the COVID infection rate in the US has dropped by 14%. As a point of interest, the US reported about 67,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. Two months ago, that figure was more than 250,000. Suffice it to say, things are finally starting to trend in the right direction.
In the wake of a declining COVID infection rate, many states have eased up on existing coronavirus restrictions as they pertain to activities like indoor dining. One can only hope that this relaxation of rules doesn’t eventually lead to subsequent COVID outbreaks across the country.