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Florida, Texas, and Arizona have recently reported the highest single-day totals of new COVID-19 cases. The data suggests that reopening too quickly, without adequate guidelines and restrictions is a documented failure. Consequently, Washington State is the latest state to delay its reopening plans. No matter how much we want to return to our normal lives, our lives before COVID-19, we must remain vigilant! The Director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has repeatedly said, “You don’t make the timeline; the virus makes the timeline.”

The pandemic is not over and is not going away anytime soon. We can’t just go off to bars, sporting events, concerts, or summer camps and pretend all is well. Instead, we must learn to live with the virus for now. While feelings of frustration, confusion and even depression have become commonplace, we cannot let our guard down…whether your area is in red, yellow, green or phase 1, 2, or 3.

According to Aaron Hamilton, MD, Associate Chief Safety and Quality Officer at The Cleveland Clinic, “There’s still a lot of COVID-19 in our communities and in our hospitals. We’ve done a lot in society to flatten the curve, which kept people safe and helped healthcare manage the critically ill patients – but this isn’t going away over the course of the summer. The virus is not gone.”

As states and businesses open back up and life tries to carry on, it can be tricky to determine what activities and events are safe and what’s worth skipping. Dr. Hamilton feels that being aware of (and following!) the proper guidelines and safety measures can help you determine the risk level associated with a particular activity. There are actions we can all take that might not look or feel normal, but they can help protect us as we all learn to live in this new world. 

Consider time, space & people: These are the three main factors to consider attending an activity or event; time, space and people


Less is better! Carefully weigh how much time you’ll be spending at the activity. Less time means limiting your risk of exposure to the virus.


Where is the activity or event being held...outside or indoors? If it’s indoors, consider how enclosed or ventilated the space is. We know that it’s safer to be outside than inside (but that doesn’t mean the risk of catching the virus outdoors is zero). You should also consider if the space has a limit on how many people can be there at one time. This will clue you in to how easy or difficult it will be to maintain physical distance from others.


Are the people attending the activity or event outside of your direct household? Consider if they will be following and respecting safety guidelines, which include: 

Where on the spectrum does the activity fall?

“When thinking about the risk of an activity, I like to think of it as a spectrum,” explains Dr. Hamilton. “It’s less about safe vs. not safe, and more about layers of risk. Everybody will have to do a risk assessment for themselves and determine where they’re comfortable and what safety guidelines they’re going to follow.”

On one end of the spectrum, the absolute safest thing to do is to stay at home with your family. On the other end of the spectrum would be large, indoor gatherings. Certain activities will always carry a much higher risk than others. A large, indoor concert is going to be more dangerous than an outdoor picnic with a couple of friends who are following safety measures. How often you choose to partake in riskier activities and events matters as well.

The degree of safety depends on the degree to which you comply with the guidelines.

9 popular activities and events and what to consider when it comes to weighing the risk.

(Dr. Aaron Hamilton, The Cleveland Clinic)

As we all try to determine our new normal, remind yourself that the recommendations are there to keep COVID-19 in a place where we can manage it until we have treatments and vaccines available.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

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Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine