(CBSNewYork) — Summer is back, and the coronavirus-weary among us are itching to be out and about. Since March, the pandemic has forced many people to curtail activities outside the home. But warm weather, not to mention all the possible fun that comes with a reopening economy, makes staying inside particularly difficult.
Coronavirus remains a concern across the country, even in areas where the number of cases is falling. So travelers and adventure seekers must remain cautious and careful. Dr. Max Gomez, host of Max Minute on CBS2 in New York, answers some common questions about coronavirus safety while traveling and staying active this summer.
What are some safe outdoor summer activities that provide some exercise and a chance for people to finally socialize in person?
So, those are kind of two different things. One is activities where you can get outside and have a good time and get some exercise. And then the socializing part of that is where it adds a little bit of extra risk. There’s nothing that you can do that has zero risk. So you’ve got to first understand that. Anything you can do outdoors is actually probably better, and is usually better, than staying indoors with a lot of people. Outdoors, with breeze blowing, social separation is easier. Social distancing is easier. You’ve got a breeze that blows away the virus and dilutes virus and so forth.
In terms of socializing, that’s where you’ve got to go back to really being really careful, with the same things that we’re doing, walking on the street, or being around other people: wearing a mask and social distancing. As long as you’re doing those two things, and you’re outdoors and you’re not in a big crowd, then you’re usually pretty safe. It’s being in a crowd in enclosed spaces for longer periods of time… all three of those things raise the risk.
Let’s say someone is planning some sort of summer family vacation. What should they look for in a destination to make sure that they’re staying safe, they’re socially distancing, while also still having fun?
First of all, it’s travel. Where are you going to go, and how are you going to get there? In general, driving with family members, people who you have been around for an extended period of time, is generally safer than air travel. Except for the part about car accidents, so we have to put that in there, because you’re at greater risk driving, in terms of accidents, then you are flying. But air travel is still a little problematic, because we don’t know how consistently airlines are going to be enforcing wearing masks, leaving some seats empty so that you can socially distance. You’re going to be surrounded by a lot of people who may not want to wear masks but also may not have been very careful about their own social distancing and coronavirus hygiene, if you will.
As far as the destination goes, again anything where you can practice that kind of social distancing. Mostly being outdoors is going to be better than being indoors. But let’s talk about, for example, amusement parks. Most of them are still closed, but some are talking about opening up. Those can be really a problem, because you’re going to be almost always in lines. Even if they enforce a decreased number of people that they allow in, you’re going to be surrounded by a lot of people, even if you’re outdoors, you’re going to be surrounded by a lot of people. And it’s unlikely that they’re going to be enforcing wearing masks and social distancing.
A lot of families like to travel together — saves you money, helps financially. But how safe is it for folks to share another vacation home with another family? And what about staying in those vacation rental homes, is that another risk for people who… there might have been somebody in that room 24 hours before you?
The longer that vacation home, or even a hotel room, has been empty, the safer you are. Number one, because the virus really doesn’t stay around on surfaces for all that long. We hear about it for hours, maybe a few days, but basically it’s not too long. And the CDC has said that that surface-to-surface or surface-to-person transmission is a very low-probability event, not zero, but very low probability. Again, it’s still airborne, that’s the number-one way. But it’s still a good idea for you, whenever you go into, whether it’s a vacation home, or a hotel, wipe down the high-touch surfaces
As far as sharing a vacation home with other families, how well do you know them? How well can you trust them to have been truly quarantined for at least the last two weeks before you share that space with them? How did they get to that hotel room or to that vacation home? Did they fly. Now, that’s put them at a little more risk for exposure. So that may or may not be a great idea.
Now let’s talk about the kiddos next, because school’s been out for a month. They haven’t been allowed to go to any classes or really hang out with a large group of friends. And now summer camps, this is typically the time that those start back up. And I think I’m going to know the answer to this before I ask it, but how safe is it to send your kids away to these summer camps?
Yeah, that’s a tough one. Let me start out by saying the CDC has a really terrific web page on their site of all of the different questions that parents should ask camps. What kind of camp it is, whether it’s a day camp or sleep-away camp and so forth. One of the biggest things is kids going away to camp, they’re not going to be wearing masks. They’re not going to be able to enforce that all the time. They’re in bunks with kids, they’re not going to be socially distancing in any way.
But one of the biggest issues that I have, and that the CDC points out, is it depends on where these kids are coming from to the camp. Some camps draw kids from all over the country. Now you might have kids coming in from some real hot spots. So you don’t know exactly where they’re coming in from. Kids don’t tend to get as sick as adults. They get sick, though, it’s a myth that kids don’t get COVID-19. But they tend not to get as sick as adults. On the other hand, there’s a handful of kids that, if they get a relatively minor disease, they develop this syndrome called MIS-C, which is as a multi-system inflammatory disease, which can be very serious. So day camps are a little safer, because you know where they’re coming from and who their kids are with. But those sleep-away camps can be risky.