What To Do If You Re In An Auto Accident – Can I catch COVID at an outdoor wedding or picnic? : Goats and Soda We have been hearing for months that the chances of contracting SARS-CoV-2 abroad are much lower than at home. Is this still true with the highly contagious strains of omicron? And if so, what can you do to stay safe?
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Outdoor events are much less risky than indoor events when it comes to COVID. They are still, by far, the safest way to gather as the country continues to see high levels of cases and increased hospitalizations.
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But the “low risk way” is not “zero risk”. There is always the possibility of contracting COVID even at an outdoor event – especially as the virus continues to evolve to become more transmissible and disrupt previous immunity from vaccination or previous cases.
“With the most transmissible variants, shorter periods of close contact are likely to result in transmission,” said Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease physician and professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.
As Maimuna Majumder, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a computational epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, says, “the more transmissible a variant is at home, the more transmissible it is in external environments.”
So extra precautions during an outbreak like the one the United States is currently seeing may be in order — especially if you’re vulnerable or in frequent contact with someone who is, experts interviewed for this story said.
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“People will make judgments based on [their] level of risk and comfort,” says Donald Milton, professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.
But, says Majumder, “that portability can be drastically reduced by ensuring that the outdoor event is not overcrowded.” That means there’s plenty of room for guests to move around — and making sure they’re vaccinated, recently tested and symptom-free is also a very good idea, he says.
With the 4th of July weekend upon us and wedding season in full swing, experts have answered frequently asked questions about staying safe while gathering outside with family and friends.
Majumder helped his friend plan a wedding with about 100 attendees, and they hadn’t heard of any cases of COVID.
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First, they made sure everything was out, including the events happening around the wedding—rehearsal dinners, happy hours, etc.
They reminded everyone to inform themselves about vaccines and boosters, which can help prevent transmission of the virus.
Majumder has organized other events and parties along similar lines, and so far he has not heard of anyone getting sick.
And for those who still think you’re not contagious if you don’t show symptoms, a necessary pre-event test may surprise you.
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“There have been many cases where people without symptoms tested positive, so they stayed home,” says Majumder, who asks everyone to take a quick test within an hour of their events. She also has rapid tests on hand in case someone is unable to test before arriving.
Testing just before the event is key. Rapid tests are good enough to tell someone if they are positive and highly contagious at that point. But its status can change in a few hours, so if you do a quick test in the morning, you could be contagious in the evening.
Rapid tests aren’t always reliable—sometimes you get a false negative—but they can be a very useful layer of protection in addition to other precautions.
There were also times when people felt a bit anxious and stayed home from one of Majumder’s events, only to test positive a day or two later – meaning they would be contagious during the party.
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Despite monitoring symptoms, Malani says, “if you add testing and vaccinations in a low-risk outdoor environment, the risk of COVID becomes manageable.”
Keeping your distance always helps a lot. Whether you’re having a wedding or a barbecue, this could mean getting families together at the same table, rather than mixing with other guests and clearing each table a few feet away.
The “15 minute rule” was developed for contact tracers to reach people who may have been exposed to COVID. If you are in close contact with someone for more than 15 minutes, you are more likely to get sick. But it is also possible to catch the virus in transit, especially at home.
Australian authorities reported a case last summer in which someone became ill after an infected person walked for a few seconds in a shopping mall, according to video footage.
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Whether or not you’re sick depends on many factors: how much virus the person is shedding, what your immunity level is from vaccinations or previous infection – and most importantly, how much fresh air there is between you.
When it comes to COVID, outdoors is great for two main reasons: There’s plenty of fresh air outside, and you have more room to keep your distance, Milton says.
But if you can’t keep your distance in a crowd – for example, at a concert, sporting event or protest – a mask greatly reduces the risks of getting sick.
This is especially true if people are screaming and yelling, if you are around them for a long period of time and you don’t know their vaccination status, tests and symptoms.
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Two of his colleagues believe they caught COVID outside before the pandemic — one at brunch outside and one waiting in line to pick up groceries in spring 2020.
The closer you are physically to someone, the greater the risk. If you are close enough, say, to smell on their breath what they chose for dinner, you are close enough to inhale the viral particles on their breath.
Like puffs of smoke, virus-laden exhalations can “travel a distance,” Milton says. That means it’s possible to get infected even if you’re not right next to someone.
But the chances of contracting COVID from a distance are significantly lower than almost any other form of interaction, such as talking closer or gathering at home.
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“I think the most important thing to remember about the outdoors is that while it’s safer, it’s not 100% safe,” Majumder says. “The more crowded an outdoor space is, the more it begins to mimic indoor space in terms of our exposure to shared air.”
But she says, “I don’t think masks are necessary while outdoors, as long as the event is not crowded, everyone is testing negative, no one has symptoms, and everyone is up to date on their vaccinations.”
Even if your event is outdoors, people may need to go home briefly to use the bathroom or wash their hands—“Something I think a lot of people forget when planning an event,” Mayumder says.
Guests should wear a high-quality mask, such as an N95 or KF94, whenever they need to go inside. Guests can keep masks “supplied and available” for any of these bouts indoors, Majumder says.
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“Masks remain very important and very effective,” says Malani. Especially if you or a member of your family is at high risk, “keep masks handy — not so much for outside use as when you’re going in and out.”
(You can also improve ventilation and filtration indoors by opening doors and windows and purifying the air in bathrooms or hallways).
Outdoor tents that do not have side flaps that surround the space can help protect from sun or rain while allowing air to pass through. But “if the store is closed, it’s not that different from being at home,” says Milton.
And “sometimes, social gatherings end up moving indoors,” Malani points out, because of bad weather, high or low temperatures or pesky mosquitoes — and “that’s when the risk of transmission can go from low to high.”
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The nature of a large event with many out-of-town guests is a recipe for broadcasting when cases are large. Guests will likely fly, stay in poorly ventilated hotels, eat in restaurants, and meet with family and friends. Even if the event you are holding is low risk in itself, these other activities may not be.
And “the larger the group, the greater the risk,” Malani says, because there are more chances that someone will have the virus and spread it.
“Prevention means using a layered approach,” he says. Try to take as many precautions as possible – stay away, stay home if you’re sick, get tested and wear masks when necessary. My experience with testing CROS hearing aids for single-sided deafness My experience with a CROS hearing aid to help me with my single. lateral deafness. In the end, I decided that the disadvantages of the device outweighed its advantages. My hearing loss is worse in one ear. Should I be worried? While some variation in hearing ability between ears is normal, “asymmetrical” hearing loss may indicate an underlying medical condition. Learn more about patchy hearing loss between the ears.
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