Ready to splash into summer? Proceed with caution.
Summer is back, but this one is different. In this new environment designed to stem the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), how can we return to restaurants and stores and enjoy barbecues and vacations safely? A few basic principles and a dose of common sense will go a long way, according to Dr. David Sidebottom, Chief of Infectious Disease at Lowell General Hospital.
Summer 2020 COVID Safety
Handwashing, attention to symptoms and masks are important steps for everyone to take. Wearing a mask protects others; research is showing that even people who have recently tested positive only shed a small amount of virus if they’re wearing a mask. But if you have a fever, cough or exhibit other respiratory symptoms you should stay away from other people until you are tested.
The best way to do it is in small numbers, with people in your group that you know. If you are comfortable with your group and you stay outside, as long as someone isn’t symptomatic it should not be a big problem. With kids and teenagers, I would keep it to under 10, maybe even under 5. I was at Hampton Beach recently people were able to separate in small groups, there was airflow, and people stayed within their group.
I suggest staying at one of the bigger hotel chains that has revised a lot of their housecleaning and other practices, like replacing the breakfast buffet with grab-and-go. As for a vacation rental, the best way is to rent from someone you know and trust. If that’s not an option, ask the people you are renting from how they are cleaning. If you are worried about it, do some cleaning yourself.
Again, whatever is caught by you has to be contacted from a surface to your face or mouth – that means your hands are the risk. Surfaces should be clean, but you can go too far worrying about environmental contamination. You don’t have to go into a hotel room and spray every corner with Lysol. Maybe wash those frequently touched surfaces, but the best thing you can do to avoid this virus is wash your hands regularly.
People should ask questions and assess for themselves what camps are doing to keep kids safe. I think most camps are going to try and do as much as they can to keep kids in the same small groups and monitor things. Group activities are a little dicey this summer, but I think everyone wants kids to be safe and strike a balance between having a life and not being cavalier. Although it’s rare, there have been some dramatic manifestations of COVID-19 in some kids.
Small would be two to three couples at most, because remember the virus spreads more easily inside so one person can easily spread it to six people. If you’re going to do it, be prudent about monitoring for symptoms and ask how these friends have been staying safe. If you know someone who is cavalier (about precautions), they’re still a friend, but maybe not a dinner party friend. But don’t let yourself be pressured into something you don’t feel comfortable doing. Try a virtual dinner.
I think I would because I feel cabin air is actually pretty well protected, and most of the airlines are spacing people out and requiring masks. That said, I would be worried if I was next to someone with symptoms like a fever or a cough. But that person shouldn’t be allowed on the plane in the first place.
Get outside and explore. My wife and I have gone out each weekend over the past couple of months with another couple on little local hikes. There are amazing conservation areas that we didn’t realize were there. If we’re out there, we’re not wearing a mask because we can safely social distance.