30 Ways You Could Catch Coronavirus (or Worse)
Summer is a time of freedom, of busting out from behind the desk and hitting the beach, pool, park or trail. This year, the desire to get outside is especially acute, coming off months of COVID-19-related lockdowns. But some warm-weather traditions can get you in serious trouble—and that's even more true as long as the coronavirus remains a threat. These are the 30 things you shouldn't do this summer, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.
Stay Indoors All the Time
It's essential to take steps to guard against coronavirus, but that doesn't mean you need to be a hermit. Being outdoors is excellent for your mental and physical health. Walking, biking, hiking or running is A-OK—just wear a mask and stay six feet away from people you don't live with.
Attend Large Gatherings
This summer, the family reunions and big birthday parties should wait. In fact, it's best to avoid all large gatherings. Experts say the recent spike in coronavirus cases has been driven by people socializing at bars, parties and in crowds. To be safe, socialize outdoors and only when physical distancing of six feet is possible.
Forget Social Distancing at the Beach
On that note: Experts are alarmed by people flocking to beaches without observing a safe space between themselves and other beachgoers. Although it's much more difficult for coronavirus to spread outdoors, it's still possible. So don't forget your sunscreen or the six-foot rule.
Ignore a Bite
Tick bites are increasingly common in the warmer months, and some can cause illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Inspect yourself for ticks after you've been outdoors, particularly in or near wooded areas. If you find one, remove it with tweezers. Contact your healthcare provider if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms.
Play Sports With Others Outside
There's one thing the CDC says you shouldn't do this summer, it's play group sports, because physical distancing isn't possible. "In general, most organized activities and sports, such as basketball, baseball, soccer, and football that are held on park fields, open areas, and courts are not recommended," the CDC says. "These activities and sports typically require coaches and athletes who are not from the same household or living unit to be in close proximity, which increases their potential for exposure to COVID-19."
Forget the Sunscreen
You may think you have better things to worry about and advice about sunscreen is old hat. But skin cancer is still on the rise in the US. When you're going to be in the sun, slap on some 'screen. The latest recommendation from the American Academy of Dermatology is to use a sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher, which will block 97 percent of the sun's harmful UVB rays. Apply it every place clothing doesn't cover, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
Skip the Workouts
In many places, temperatures are soaring into the 90s and gyms are closed, two factors that may have derailed your workout routine. But keep trying to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. Look into apps, online workouts and Zoom classes you enjoy. Even going for a walk counts.
Skip Your Warmup
If you exercise outside, warming up is particularly important in hot weather to help your body acclimate and prevent heat cramping. Stretch, warm up and cool down before and after a run, hike or cycling session.
Host a Pool Party
Experts say it's unlikely that coronavirus can be spread from the water in swimming pools. But social distancing is difficult to enforce at any gathering (and who wants to police their own party?). It's best to hold off for now.
Fly on a Plane
Summer is prime vacation time, but experts say that yours shouldn't involve a plane while COVID-19 continues to spread. "We should all be in the mindset of 'only if necessary' and always taking the most precautions we can to protect ourselves and others," Lauren Ancel Meyers, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas, told the Associated Press.
Says the CDC: "Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces," their site says. "Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within six feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19."
Attend a Carnival or Fair
Carnivals and state fairs are a summer tradition, but they're on the "should skip" list this year. Rides and attractions contain many high-touch surfaces, like steering wheels and seat belts, that can transmit coronavirus if they're not constantly sanitized.
Eat Blackened BBQ
Grilling out is one of the simple joys of summer. But remember to grill, not blacken, your meat. Experts believe that blackening meat over charcoal can cause carcinogens to form on food. So go easy. You can also zap your meat in the microwave after cooking, or marinate it for 30 minutes before the grill, to eliminate harmful chemicals.
Forget Your Face Mask
Wear a face mask every time you're in public: It's the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. A growing number of states, localities and national chain stores—including Walmart, Target and Publix—are requiring it, for good reason. Make sure it fits comfortably over your nose and mouth. If one type of material is uncomfortable, try another.
It may be difficult, but it's still important to shield older people from coronavirus by limiting or avoiding in-person visits.
Share Food and Drinks
Outdoors in the summertime, it's second nature to take a swig of water from your friend's water bottle, steal a sip of their beer or swipe a bit of their snack. Resist that this year: Sharing food raises your risk of contracting coronavirus. (New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is even requiring offices to prohibit food sharing as a condition of reopening after the lockdown.).
Stop Washing Your Hands
Along with wearing a face mask in public, this is one of the most important things you can do to stop the spread of coronavirus. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you've been in public. If soap and water isn't available, use a hand sanitizer of at least 60 percent alcohol.
Pile on the Processed Meat
So you've committed to the perfect socially distanced picnic or BBQ. Now what to serve? Think twice about throwing hot dogs on the grill or packing sandwiches piled high with deli meats: Processed meat — meaning hot dogs, sausages, bacon and deli meats like ham and turkey — has been found to raise the risk of colon cancer by 18% with just one daily 2-ounce serving. Meats marked "nitrate free" aren't safer.
Forget Your Fluids
Dehydration is a constant risk during hot weather, particularly in people over 50. Experts recommend not waiting until you're thirsty to drink water. Bring it along with you outdoors and drink regularly if you're exercising or doing yard work. Aim to have five or six cups a day under normal conditions; if you're exerting yourself, you may need more.
Drink Too Much
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is a lousy idea at any time of year, but over-imbibing during hot weather raises your risk of dehydration and heatstroke and increases the likelihood of pool and boating accidents.
Think The Heat Kills Coronavirus
The idea that COVID-19 cases would decline in the summer (like the seasonal flu) isn't just a myth—it's deadly misinformation. Over 30 states have seen coronavirus surge since Memorial Day, spurred largely by people gathering in large social situations and not following social-distancing guidelines, and the country is setting daily records for cases in sweltering July.
Last month, Harvard researchers said that air conditioning may be partly behind the spread of coronavirus in the South. Coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets, which air conditioning can cause to circulate around the room. Stick to dining and drinking outside to be safe.
Head to a Movie Theater
Just as with restaurants and bars, air conditioning in movie theaters might cause coronavirus spread. This summer, head to a drive-in (a resurgent attraction in many areas) or host a movie night outside.
Ignore The Weather Forecast
In many parts of the country, the weather's been changing on a dime, and it can be extreme. Before heading out to the lake or beach, check the hourly forecast for the day and ensure your trip doesn't coincide with an extended thunderstorm or lightning.
Forget the Bug Spray
Insect bites are more than a nuisance—they can also spread disease. Tick bites can transmit Lyme disease, and mosquitoes carry West Nile and other viruses. Use a bug repellent before heading outside for extended periods. If you find formulations that contain DEET to be irritating or greasy, look for a brand that contains picaridin, which is odorless, greaseless and just as effective.
Push Yourself Too Hard
Higher temperatures and humidity can cause dehydration and heatstroke to sneak up on you. Stay well hydrated and modify your outdoor activities if necessary.
You might be tempted to take a dip when no one else around, but it's not the best idea for safety. You never know when a cramp or another physical issue can lead you into trouble in the water, even if you're an experienced swimmer. If you're heading to a pool or the lake, do what you did at summer camp back in the day and bring a buddy.
Forget Rescue Equipment
If you have a backyard swimming pool, you should make sure you have rescue equipment nearby: A long pole with a "shepherd's hook at the end," a life preserver and life jackets. Being prepared will give you peace of mind and potentially lead to lives saved. If children live in your house or nearby, make sure your pool is securely gated at all times.
Forget the Life Jackets
If you're heading out on the water, make sure everyone on your boat or craft has a life jacket. For kids, don't rely on "floaties" or inflatable toys that aren't rated for rescues.
Send the Kids to Summer Camp
Some day and sleepaway camps have opened this summer, and it's led to some major outbreaks of coronavirus. Earlier this month, 85 campers and counselors tested positive for coronavirus in a northern Georgia YMCA camp, and a Missouri camp closed after it was linked to at least to 82 infections. To keep kids and older relatives healthy, it's a good idea to forgo camp this year.
OD on the Sugary Drinks
Soda isn't effective hydration, and the extra calories can obliterate a beach body by Labor Day. Sports drinks pack a lot of sugar too, in addition to unnecessary additives and chemicals. Hydrate with plain H2O, homemade spa water or unsweetened flavored seltzers.
How to Stay Healthy All Summer
To avoid catching the coronavirus: Wear your face mask, wash your hands frequently, avoid crowds, practice social distancing, monitor your health, and don't miss this special report: I'm a Doctor and Here's How to Never Catch COVID-19 Outside.
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