Contact a Risky Business in a Covid-19 World

di Priscilla Pajdo del July 28, 2020

TORONTO - When it comes to Covid-19, most of us have altered our daily habits in order to minimize the potential for infection. Our interaction in society carries a certain level of risk for infection, especially as restrictions are lifted and we begin to interact more freely with one another.

Last month, we discussed the timeline and likelihood of people resuming certain daily activities as life begins to return to some semblance of “normal”. Today’s graph illustrates a risk assessment of such activities that pose a potential for infection.

Risk levels are based on the input from a Covid-19 Task Force and Committee on Infectious Diseases from the Texas Medical Association. The assessment was ranked between a level nine (high risk) down to the lowest risk, level one. The ranking factors in the assumption that participants in these activities would be taking as many safety precautions as possible.

The implied advice is to avoid any high-risk activity: like visiting a bar. It makes sense, considering the indoor environment. It is a natural instinct for people to congregate closer to socialize without keeping distance.

Whether music is playing or a soccer match is on, the volume is loud and people tend to compensate by getting closer and speaking louder. Such behaviour reduces the physical distance and increases the potential spread of contagion among patrons.

The risk of such behaviour is evident in countries like Spain and the US states of California and Florida. There has been an increase in Covid-19 cases reported among people between the ages of 20-39. Now, to mitigate further infection, bars have shuttered their doors once again.

The same high-risk level is assessed for activities where large groups of people congregate (500+). This would include sporting events, concerts and large congregation services.
Assessed at level eight would include working out at the gym or enjoying a meal at a buffet restaurant. The risk level is downgraded slightly if you choose an indoor dining experience where your meal is brought to your table.

A better option would be to opt for enjoying your meal on the outdoor patio of your favourite restaurant. To further lower your risk (level two), simply order take-out.

What is not so simple is the plan to resume in-class learning for students in September. The traditional larger class sizes make it difficult to maintain physical distancing. Sending kids back to school poses a moderate risk for infection. We are just weeks away from the start of school and there is still no official plan from the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Do you want to make the most of what is left in the summer vacation? A visit to the beach still poses a moderate risk of infection. Despite being outdoors, people tend to congregate closer together to optimize every inch of beachfront.

As we move forward to September, and the cooler months ahead, more outdoor activities will shift indoors. In an era where Covid-19 seems ever-present, it is important to take the necessary precautions and minimize the risk level for infection as we get together, socialize, and integrate.

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