What’s safe to enjoy during this summer during the ongoing pandemic?
With the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise in some places in Ohio and across the nation, the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) offers some guidance about area’s favorite ways to unwind during warm summer days and nights.
Dr. Joseph Zarconi, medical director of COVID-19 response at NEOMED, weighs in and offers expertise about specific scenarios. Note that his answers below are aimed at people with no underlying health conditions.
Health experts say people with diabetes, asthma and other conditions should stay at home as much as possible.
1. Boating on Portage Lakes or any lake where people might gather?
I would be comfortable doing so with immediate family or friends who I am certain have been consistently practicing strict mitigation strategies, and would not gather with, or interact with, others at the lakes. I'd bring food and beverages and not go to bars, restaurants or other places where people gather.
2. Movie night and fireworks with social distancing guidelines in place? (All guests will be required to wear face coverings at all times, except while sitting in assigned seating.)
I would prefer that people would be expected to continue to wear face coverings even when in their seats. Undoubtedly people will be getting up and moving around. So, no, under these conditions, I would not attend.
3. Family or neighborhood barbecue?
If I believed that my family or my neighbors have been practicing mitigation fairly consistently, and was sure that face coverings and physical distancing would be required of all attendees, I would be willing to attend, but only under those stipulations.
4. Cedar Point, which plans to reopen to all July 11, or other amusement parks?
Not a chance. Impossible to imagine any way to keep one's distance from others. Impossible to imagine that all the countless surfaces I'd be touching (rides, etc.) could ever be cleaned between all of the possible touches.
5. Public pools, splash pads or public beaches?
Again, it appears clear from the experiences of beach communities in other states that people who gather in such places generally do not keep their distance or cover their faces. So, I think it's still too soon to be reopening these venues.
6. Public restrooms? If you take a day trip, go camping or just need to go when you’re not home, is there a way to maximize safety?
These can be used with a fair degree of safety. It is important to minimize touching anything that doesn't need to be touched, and to thoroughly wash your hands after touching anything. If running water is not available, use hand sanitizer with 60% or greater alcohol content to thoroughly clean hands. If possible, covering the toilet seat before use would be advised. And of course, traffic in and out of the restroom should be ideally restricted to allow physical distancing.
7. Indoor restaurants/bars?
My answer here is similar to No. 5. Still too soon for me.
8. Outdoor restaurants/bars?
I personally am not ready to do this, but if physical distancing is maintained, and all restaurant staff are required to wear face coverings, and you are choosing to dine with a small group of only individuals who have been practicing mitigation, the risks are probably reasonably low. But I would be wondering who placed my silverware at my table, and my dinnerware, and how? Were they wearing gloves? Or had they washed their hands? For me personally, these nagging questions would diminish my enjoyment of being out to dinner quite a bit.
9. Little League, youth sports, adult softball and other outdoor sports where there is at least occasional close contact?
With incidences rising, I fall back on the fact that one asymptomatic child could infect half of a Little League team in one event, and so I'm keeping my kids home a little longer. I'll play ball with them in the backyard.
10. Flying on a plane, riding a bus or taking a cab/Lyft/Uber?
Again, I am still quite concerned with the ability of these carriers to adequately clean all surfaces at all times, and to allow me to maintain my distance from other passengers. Some airlines are now selling all seats, so no more guaranteed empty seats between you and the next passenger. For me, I think there needs to be a really compelling reason to travel using public transportation at this time.