COVID 19 is no longer an excuse to stay inside Here's what to know about

A new tool to fight COVID-19 is on the rise across the United States: Warm, fresh air. Spring and summer weather will provide opportunities for people — vaccinated or not — to enjoy low-risk, outdoor activities to better their physical and mental health, experts say. It’s a development in the fight against COVID-19 because experts are now confident that it’s much harder for the virus to spread in outdoor conditions — especially when people wear masks and keep their distance.“There (was) a lot of fear in the early parts of the pandemic because we didn’t know how it spread,” Gleb Tsipursky, author of a book about adapting to “the new abnormal” of COVID-19, told USA TODAY. That uncertainty was at play last year as states closed beaches and parks and has continued to influence policy this year. In February, University of California, Berkeley made headlines for banning outdoor exercise. But research has shown that simple precautions are usually enough to keep you safe from COVID-19 when outside, experts say.“Outdoors are not only safe, but really, really important,” said Nooshin Razani, a University of California, San Francisco professor of epidemiology and biostatistics. Razani co-authored a systematic review of studies on indoor versus outdoor spread of COVID-19 and similar viruses. That widely-cited study found there was about a 20 times higher chance of transmission indoors than outdoors. Razani is among the experts hoping to encourage Americans to spend more time outside in the coming weeks.“When I see people on a beach, I feel good that they’re not gathering indoors,” Razani said. COVID-19 can spread outside, but it spreads much more easily inside. Indoor spread is so pervasive that researchers, including Razani, have struggled to document clear examples of outdoor transmission. That’s in part because many situations where the virus may spread outside also have an indoor component — like a summer camp, for example. It’s relatively easy for a highly contagious respiratory virus to spread inside: particles, often from infected people not yet showing symptoms, easily build up in uncirculated air, Tsipursky and Razani explained. Indoor spaces contain recycled air: “You’re all exposed to the same air … that should freak people out,” Razani said. Experts are generally hesitant to label any activity completely safe because a host of factors are at play. Going for a walk on a beach with members of your family? That’s almost certainly safe. Lounging on the beach all day close by a bunch of maskless friends? That would likely make health experts uncomfortable.“It’s hard to give rules,” said Dr. David P. Eisenman, a professor of medicine and public health with University of California, Los Angeles’ Fielding School of Public Health. Eisenman and other experts agreed: Standard COVID-19 precautions — especially keeping your distance and wearing a mask — are especially effective at keeping you safe from the virus when spending time outside.

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