(CBS Denver) — Summer is here, but coronavirus hasn’t gone anywhere. As temperatures rise, some places continue to reopen, but others have paused to reevaluate. People are still seeking a return to life as they knew it before the pandemic, or at least some semblance of it. But renewed freedom comes with a risk. And that can affect traditional summer activities.
With some precautions, a new normal can be almost as enjoyable as the old normal. From backyard grilling to get-togethers with friends, summer can still be a season to socialize and enjoy each other’s company. Dr. Dave Hnida, medical editor for CBS4 in Denver and an emergency physician and clinical instructor at the University Hospital in Denver, answers some common questions about coronavirus safety while staying social this summer.
I know so many people love going outside for outdoor gatherings, maybe a picnic, especially with the great weather that so many people are experiencing right now. But what is a way that you can do that with friends and family that you haven’t seen in a while, while also minimizing risks of COVID-19 exposure.
And that’s really the key, you want to minimize risk, because there will never be zero risk. I think the most important things to remember, in a situation like this, are the three basics. You want to keep in mind that there should be the use of masks. There should be social distancing, and obviously good hygiene. So let’s say you’re going to the park, and you’re going to spend some time together. There will be food, beverages involved. I think it’s important that each group bring their own food and beverages, as well as utensils, plates, whatever is necessary.
And then if you’re having something at your home, where people are coming over, say for a barbecue, I think it’s important there to once again maintain the same sort of guidelines. Try to, perhaps, minimize the number of people you’re getting together with. Do it outside as possible. And then, if you are serving food, it’s important that one person be given a specific job. For example, one person would serve food, someone else would serve some side dishes, someone else would be in charge of distributing condiments. And so that way you can have a good get-together and a safe get-together.
If I take a hike outside with someone who’s not in my household, one question a lot of people have to ask… you’re exercising, you’re outdoors, there’s a breeze blowing, so if I’m only hiking with one other person, do I really need to wear a mask at that point in time and stay six feet apart from them?
Unfortunately, the way things are going in today’s COVID world, we have to almost assume that everyone could be an asymptomatic carrier of coronavirus. So if it’s not someone who’s in your household, and you’re going out for a hike or a jog or even a simple walk, you do need to keep in mind, once again, there needs to be social distancing. You need to be staying that six feet apart. You do need to wear a mask.
And remember that every time you speak and every time that you’re exerting yourself, if you are doing something that involves exercise, you’re going to be putting out, just so many microscopic droplets. And, in those droplets, potentially are coronavirus particles. And so I think it’s wise to get out and enjoy the outdoors. But once again, do it safely.
Let’s say everybody is outside enjoying the nice weather. They’re all wearing their masks. If you have kids at home, and they want to go outside to play, is it risky for them to be outside among other people, even when those folks are wearing masks?
It’s interesting because there are no formal guidelines in terms of kids going out and, say, playing in the neighborhood. I think that the best thing a parent can do is to once again follow the guidelines that adults do. Masks certainly are important. I think that social distancing should be followed and certainly good hygiene as well, as we always talk about. I think there needs to be a limitation on the number of kids who are playing together. You also probably need to have some adult supervision involved in there… obviously, age dependent. And there also needs to be some sort of a time limit on this, because the longer you are out, the longer potential for exposure.
And one final thing to think about is to know the people that you’re getting together with, as well as who your children are getting together with. It’s always important to have similar philosophies about how you feel about prevention of COVID and coronavirus. It’s always good to be on the same page as people that you’re getting together with or your children are getting together with.