Wondering which activities might put you at a higher risk of catching the coronavirus? Well, doctors on the Texas Medical Association (TMA) COVID-19 Task Force have answered that exact question. In a chart published this week, the physicians have ranked everyday activities, from playing golf to visiting friends in their homes, in terms of how high a coronavirus risk they pose to you.
The chart, titled Know Your Risk During COVID-19, scores over 35 everyday activities on a scale of 1-10, with 1 posing the lowest risk and 10 the highest. To avoid any finger-pointing, the doctors have asked people to assume that those involved in the listed activities are ‘following currently recommended safety protocols when possible’.
Also, they haven’t published this list to stop you from doing certain things - this is about protecting your health and that of those around you, especially the vulnerable, and giving you the information to make your own decisions.
The risk chart is split into five different color-coded groups, from low risk (light green) to high risk (red). The individual risk levels are based on data compiled by the physicians who make up the TMA COVID-19 Task Force and Committee on Infectious Diseases. The activities they consider high risk are:
There is no activity on the current chart rated at a 10 at this time but, as with everything surrounding the novel coronavirus, that could change. So those activities shown above are the ones the TMA COVID-19 Task Force deem to put you most at risk of the coronavirus right now.
If you’re planning a trip to a bar, choose one with outdoor seating so that can you maintain social distancing. Also, look for bars where you can order drinks via an app or table service, keeping you away from the main bar areas.
Many gyms across America are opening up outdoor exercise classes, therefore reducing the risk to people who want to workout at their local fitness center, as opposed to using a home gym. If you’d prefer to still exercise at home, you can easily get in a cardio workout with the best treadmills, or use one of the best fitness trackers to monitor your HIIT or resistance-based workouts.
According to the TMA COVID-19 Task Force, moderate-high risk activities are:
Going to the beach and visiting friends - know your risk
If you’re taking part in any of the activities listed above, it is especially important that you follow the updated CDC coronavirus guidelines to stay COVID-safe this summer. That means adhering to social distancing, regularly washing your hands with soap and water (or using hand sanitizer when outside), and wearing a fabric face mask in areas where virus transmission is active as well as where social distancing is hard to maintain. WHO advises medical masks for over 60s.
That doesn’t mean you can skip out any of those protocols if your everyday activities are considered lower risk by doctors, as every person is at risk of catching the coronavirus - it respects no boundaries, no ages, no activities or zip codes.
The activities considered of moderate risk are:
- Having dinner at someone else’s house
- Attending a backyard barbecue
- Going to a beach
- Shopping at a mall
- Sending kids to school, camp or daycare
- Working a week in an office building
- Swimming in a public pool
- Visiting an elderly relative or friend in their home
Activities considered of low-moderate coronavirus risk are:
- Grocery shopping
- Going for a walk, run or bike ride with others
- Playing golf
- Staying at a hotel for two nights
- Sitting in a doctor’s waiting room
- Going to a library or museum
- Eating in a restaurant (outside)
- Walking in a busy downtown
- Spending an hour at a playground
Low risk activities to consider doing instead
Again, the TMA physicians haven’t published this list to stop you from going to bars or from working out in gyms, but they have published it to make us all more aware that if we choose to participate in these activities - or if our work involves these activities - then we are at varying degrees of risk of coronavirus.
Therefore, you may want to think about the types of activities you’re considering doing, what the risks might be to you and your family, and how you can protect yourself as much as possible from potential infection.
This is important for all of us, but especially for anyone who is or who lives with a person considered at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The updated list of who’s at increased risk now includes people who are pregnant and those who are obese (BMI of 30 and over).
Location also plays a big role in staying safe, as states with active virus transmission carry a higher risk with any of these activities - even the low risk ones - compared to states without active virus transmission.
So, what about the everyday activities the TMA doctors consider low risk? Those are:
How to stay COVID-safe when outside
Both the CDC and WHO advice is regularly updated on this topic, but the basic measures remain the same. And they start with you. How are you feeling? Are you showing any coronavirus symptoms? If so, stay at home and monitor them. Fever is a major indicator of coronavirus, and you can monitor yours more accurately with one of the best digital thermometers for adults and children.
If you are well and are planning on heading outside of the home, pack the following CDC-recommended items into your bag:
- A cloth face covering (protects others; their mask protects you)
- Hand sanitizer that's at least 60% alcohol based
- Disposable tissues (for coughing and sneezing into)
There’s no way to completely zero your risk of catching the coronavirus, but the longer you spend with people outside of your household, and the closer you get to them, the greater the risk of COVID-19 spread. Again, that’s especially true if you live in one of the states currently seeing a spike in cases.
The CDC says that your risk of catching the virus increases if you are interacting with multiple new people each day, or if you are in a group with people who aren’t social distancing or wearing face masks. Why? Because some of them could be infected but not show any symptoms. That could also include you.
If you think you are infected, call your doctor or healthcare professional and ask for their advice. The CDC has extensive guidelines on how to properly quarantine yourself if sick.
The cost of COVID-19 treatment is an ongoing issue of concern for many Americans. If you’re without coverage, take a look at our guide to the best health insurance providers, as well as the best Medicare Part D plans for prescription drugs cost coverage.