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'Can You Catch COVID Outside?'

friends outside restaurant selfie
By Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RNAugust 14, 2020
From the WebMD Archives

I don’t know about you, but when I go to a park or pass by a restaurant with outdoor seating, I can almost forget for a moment that there’s a pandemic going on – they’re packed with people!

The experts have said that it’s OK to be outside. But seeing everyone enjoying themselves as if there’s no risk at all, might make you wonder – wait, is that really safe? Can you catch COVID outside?

Your risk is certainly lower with outdoor gatherings and activities. Wind currents tend to disperse germs in the air quickly, which makes it less likely you’d inhale a large quantity of viral particles in the open air. And catching COVID-19 requires exposure to the virus over a period of time. In other words, you likely won’t get sick from inhaling a single, stray viral particle during an outdoor yoga session or while dining at a sidewalk café.

But you still could get sick if you gather too closely together outside over a long period of time or if everyone involved doesn’t wear a mask. And if there’s a high level of viral spread in your area, it’s more likely that one or more of the people around you could unknowingly have the virus.

People at high risk of getting seriously ill from the virus should be careful, even when meeting with others outdoors. People at average risk can make outdoor gatherings safer by maintaining at least six feet of distance between each person, wearing face coverings, and washing your hands regularly throughout the event.

Getting together with friends and family in small outdoor gatherings can cure our collective yearning for social contact. Just be sure you don’t get too much social contact – even outside – or you might find yourself sick with COVID-19.



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