Submitted by Washington State Department of Health
It’s summer and it’s time to go outside! The good news is, when it comes to COVID-19, just about anything you can come up with to do outside is going to be lower risk than a gathering indoors.
Still, keep that cloth face covering with your outdoor gear. There’s a lot of people looking forward to being outside, and if you end up along a trail or in a park where you can’t consistently stay more than six feet away from people — or if “nature calls” and you need to go inside for a minute — put that cloth face covering on.
As you are considering your plans for the summer, the keys to COVID-free summer fun are:
• Outside is lower risk than inside.
• Small gatherings are lower risk than large gatherings.
• Stay at least 6 feet away from other people as much as possible.
• Wash your hands, and keep a bottle of hand sanitizer within easy reach. Like next to the sunscreen and bug spray.
Let’s think about how that applies to common summer activities.
A small backyard BBQ with another family with the blankets or lawn chairs placed six feet apart is a relatively low-risk summer activity. It is a lower risk than a neighborhood potluck with a lot of people, and it is a lower risk than having friends over for a sit-down dinner inside your house. Everybody wash your hands before you eat!
Well, if you are going to go backpacking in the wilderness, far away from everyone else, you don’t have much to worry about COVID-wise. There’s still, you know, bears. If you will be camping where you can pretty much still see your car, try to find a campground that provides lots of space for each campsite so you have lots of room to spread out. When you use the facilities, put your cloth face covering on, and try not to touch anything after you have washed your hands.
Many playgrounds have been roped off by city parks departments. When they re-open, the trick will be making sure your kids are staying about six feet away from other kids. The hazard is really about close contact, not the surfaces of the playground equipment. Let the kids slide and climb and swing when the playground is not very crowded. Otherwise bring a ball for them to chase or bikes to ride.
Playing with Water
The virus that causes COVID-19 is not known to spread through water. So, the hazard of community pools is, again, the potential close contact with other people. Kayaking, or swimming outdoors with fewer people around (but never alone!) is a low risk activity, as far as COVID-19 is concerned. Sprinklers and water balloons are great within the household, but if you invite others to join the fun, be sure everyone is staying at least six feet away from each other.
Practice compassion. Everyone’s risk tolerance is different. In counties that are in Phase 2, small gatherings with fewer than five people outside your household are allowable, but that doesn’t mean everyone is ready! Be patient with your friends who need or want to stay home and stay healthy a bit longer.
Information changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.
Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at www.doh.wa.gov/coronavirus. You can also contact the DOH call center, 6 a.m.-10 p.m., seven days a week at 1–800–525–0127.