WHAT'S YOUR RISK?
Texas is reopening, but coronavirus is still with us.
As life starts to look a little more normal, how safe is it to venture out into the world? Take our risk quiz to find out.
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We asked three medical experts to rate some of the things you may want to do, or have to do, in the era of COVID-19.
Click or tap on the icons below to quiz yourself and assess the risks.
Disclaimer: This is general risk assessment advice and does not guarantee any particular outcome as many factors can contribute to one’s susceptibility to COVID-19 including personal health, individual immunity levels, or prior exposure. It is advised that individuals check with their individual health care provider for recommendations and guidance specific to their own health situation.
PICK THE RISK
There’s a neighborhood family that has children the same age as yours. Desperate to get your kid some socialization and burn off energy, you hatch a plan to form a quaran-team. No one has been sick recently, all parents are working from home, the kids have not gone to school, and the only time anyone leaves their home is to get groceries or pick up takeout. Even when a parent does that, they wear a mask, gloves, keep proper social distance, and wash hands afterwards. With all that in place, you elect to hang out with the family regularly without wearing masks.
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This is a classic “social bubble” situation. As long as both families are following the rules in their day-to-day lives, and not seeing lots of other friends on the side, forming a quaran-team is relatively low risk.
PICK THE RISK
Now that hair salons have reopened, you’re hoping a cut and color will give you even just a taste of normalcy. You make your appointment online and when you arrive at the salon, you and the hairdresser are the only ones there. You see the windows cracked, but it’s hot so the AC is also running. You both wear masks the whole time as you chat and get your hair cut. You pay with a credit card at the end.
Hairdressers actually have a lot of training when it comes to disinfecting and hygiene. Yes, you have to be in close proximity to another person. But if that person is following strict safety protocol, the risk drops a bit here.
You’re hoping to sweat out the stress of living through a global pandemic by taking a hot yoga class. You check in online, bring your own mat and towel, and head straight into the studio before class starts. The instructor is wearing a mask as she paces around the room. Everyone’s mats are spread out by at least 6 feet, but in a 95-degree room, none of the other students can bear to keep their masks on, nor can you.
Lots of sweaty strangers in an enclosed environment, what could go wrong? You’ll also be tempted to wipe sweat off your face, potentially touching your eyes and mouth area, making the risk even higher.
With shelter-in-place restrictions easing, you decide to take a much-needed vacation to a hotel on a beach. You opt to fly since it’s fastest. You wear a mask and gloves in the airport and on the airplane. You take the first flight of the morning to avoid crowds and take advantage of the overnight cleaning of the plane. The airport isn’t crowded. You get the window seat. There’s no one in the middle seat but there is another passenger in the aisle seat. All passengers and crew are wearing masks. The flight is about an hour.
You could do everything right, but at the end of the day you’re at the mercy of your fellow passengers’ health and hygiene. Plus, you haven't exactly picked the safest destination, as cases continue to rise in in Southern California.
You line up for your weekly grocery haul on a Saturday morning. While queued up outside, everyone is wearing masks and standing 6 feet apart. Once you get inside, it’s not crowded, but it’s pretty impossible to stay 6 feet away from other shoppers while you pass them in the aisles. You spend about 45 minutes in the store then head home. You used to disinfect all the cans and boxes you brought home, but lately you’ve just been using hand sanitizer and carrying on.
The masks and crowd control make grocery shopping significantly lower risk these days. Going during off-peak hours would make it even safer.
You drive to visit the grandparents in a city where there have been COVID-19 cases, but it’s not out of control. Three days before visiting, everyone gets tested for the virus and all results are negative. Instead of staying in a hotel, you and your kids stay in their guest room. Other than one family outing to the zoo, everyone pretty much just hangs out at the house all weekend. Everyone washes their hands a lot, but you don’t wear masks when you’re indoors because you want things to feel a little normal.
Grandparents are always going to be a higher risk population and the zoo is an uncontrolled environment. Those factors tip this into the high-risk category. And remember, you can test negative one day and contract the virus the next.
It’s your graduation/baby shower/birthday/insert-special-occasion and you’re sick of this social distancing stuff. You send out a mass text to 20 friends, telling them to come over and celebrate, as long as they aren’t actively feeling sick. Most of them are wearing masks when they show up, but that doesn’t last very long once people come inside, start drinking, and snacking on the chips and salsa you put out. Your guests make some attempt to stand apart at the beginning, but as more people arrive and more drinks are consumed, there’s less of a concerted effort.
If you throw this party, keep everyone’s names and phone numbers handy. The coronavirus contact tracers will be needing that information.
After months of being cooped up and doing distance learning, you decide it’s time to get the kids out of the house. You enroll them in a day camp at a local community center. Campers are in groups of 10 and the staff tries to keep the groups from intermixing, but they all use the same bathrooms and other facilities. Much of the day is spent outdoors, but the kids sometimes move inside to get a break from the heat. The counselors remind kids to wash their hands, but there’s really no enforcement. Only a few kids wear masks.
Definitely ask questions about the camp’s safety protocol before enrolling your kids. The smaller the group of kids, the better.
After months of cooking for just your family, you’re desperate for some fresh conversation over dinner. You invite three of your best friends over for a sit-down dinner party. You serve a pasta dish and they bring wine to share. The food is served on plates from your cabinet, not paper or plastic. You washed your hands before you started cooking and everyone washes their hands before eating, but no one wears masks while they’re eating (obviously!) and your table is nowhere near big enough to keep people spaced out by 6 feet.
The risk factor here pretty much centers around your invitees. Do you really know everywhere your friends have been over the past two weeks? One thing you can do to make this safer is eat outside.
Campgrounds are reopening and you love the idea of getting out of town. You make a reservation for your family and head out to a spot in the woods. You camp in a tent, only eat food you brought with you and spend most of the day hiking on empty trails. Everyone in your family is using plenty of hand sanitizer, but it’s hard to convince the kids to keep their masks on for any extended period of time.
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If you can maintain social distancing at the campground, the rest of this is pretty low risk. Don’t sweat about making the kids wear masks when you’re alone on the trail.
When the bus arrives, you board through the back. You see an empty seat that seems about 6 feet away from the few other riders on board, but the bus starts moving and you have to grab hold of the railing as you make your way toward the seat. You’re not wearing gloves, but you (and all other riders) are wearing a mask. You ride for 15 minutes and have to pull the cord to indicate your stop before getting off.
The key to success here is that everyone is wearing masks. Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer cuts the risk of touching the railing or other shared surfaces on the bus, too.
Your gym is finally reopened and you can’t wait to get back in there. You wear a mask when you walk in and decide to not use the locker room. Check-in is totally contactless. But once you start working out, the mask comes off. You do a quick wipe-down of the equipment with a disinfecting wipe before using it. You run on the treadmill to warm up, then use the weight machines. The gym is pretty empty, so it’s not hard to stay about 6 feet away from others.
If you absolutely have to go to the gym, go early in the morning after everything has been deep cleaned. If the gym is crowded, just turn around and leave.