Dr Fauci to go hiking on Memorial Day as he urges Americans to 'go out' while maintaining social distancing
Dr Anthony Fauci advised Americans to wear face masks and maintain a six-feet distance while staying outdoors
Dr Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has plans for the Memorial Day weekend. The expert will indulge in some time outdoors hiking as he takes a break from coronavirus. He is also encouraging Americans to head out as, but only after taking precautions. On Memorial Day, many cities are coming back to life. Authorities are loosening restrictions on the weekend, opening up a few parks, restaurants, and beaches.
"Memorial Day, it's a very important holiday. Hopefully the sun will be out. We'll be having people who want to get out there and get fresh air. You can do that. We're not telling people to just lock in unless you're in a situation where you have a major outbreak going on, we don't have too much of that right now in the country," Fauci told CNN's global coronavirus town hall. But he added that people should wear a mask, stay six feet away from anyone outdoors. "Go for a run. Go for a walk. Go fishing -- as long as you're not in a crowd and you're not in a situation where you can physically transmit the virus," Fauci added.
Other experts think by adopting these precautions, Americans can lower their risks of contracting and spreading the disease outdoors. This is because the open air makes it harder for the virus floating in respiratory droplets to reach more people, Cyrus Shahpar, a director at Resolve to Save Lives, told Vox. He also added that it is easier to practice social distancing outdoors than in closed spaces.
The current data suggest that confined indoor spaces provide the perfect conditions for the virus to infect a large group of people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracked 53 infections and two deaths to a choir practice in Washington. The federal health agency also said a cluster of about 35 cases emerged from a church gathering in rural Arkansas. More recently, South Korean researchers linked 112 infections to a dance workshop. All the clusters have one thing in common: mass gatherings in indoor spaces.
"In settings where people are clustered together in an enclosed space — that's a really good setup for spreading this infection," Dr Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, told NBC News. Even two studies -- which are not peer-reviewed yet-- support this theory. After investigating 318 coronavirus outbreaks in China, the team found only one happened outdoors. Another study found that an infected person has 18.7 times higher chances of passing on the virus to others in a closed environment.
Though scientists have not found concrete evidence to link cluster outbreaks to outdoor spaces, they are not ruling out the possibility. "It seems to be a low-risk setting, but that doesn't mean there is no risk," Bogoch added. For instance, sitting at a place for a longer time can heighten the risk, as opposed to just walking or passing by, Shan Soe-Lin, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, told The New York Times.
The safest option, however, is to stay at home. While out, Bogoch recommends practicing proper social distancing, which means staying at least 6 feet apart from others. Maintaining hand hygiene and wearing a mask in crowded outdoor spaces may lower risks. “If we now go back to the old normal and don’t follow the social distancing strategy anymore, it’s like a ticking time bomb,” Peter Jüni, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital, told New York Times. “You never know where it blows up and when."