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Do I still need to keep wearing the mask outdoors?

A mask is recommended if you want to stop long conversations with unvaccinated people. Even outdoors, the risk of inhaling someone else’s air increases as you get closer to them.One of the few Documented case In China, an outdoor infection occurred early in the pandemic when a 27-year-old man and a friend who had just returned from Wuhan, the source of the virus, stopped chatting outside. Seven days later, he showed the first symptoms of Covid-19.

Also, if you are in an outdoor crowd, we recommend a mask. Standing side by side with strangers during open-air concerts and protests can increase the risk, especially for unvaccinated people.

Recently, while hiking without a mask, Dr. Ma said she still strived to stay away from large groups when the trails were crowded.

“If I was passing by a hiker, it didn’t matter to me,” Dr. Ma said. “But if I went through a group of 10 hikers in a row, I went a step further. The risk is still low, but at some point enough people to be aware of the risk. There may be. “

Walking dogs, biking, hiking on trails, and picnics with family and vaccinated friends are all activities where the risk of virus exposure is negligible. In these situations, you can keep a mask in your pocket in case you are in a crowd or need to go indoors.

“I think it’s a little too much to have a mask on when you go for a walk, jogging or cycling,” he said. Dr. Muge CevikHe is a clinical lecturer in Infectious Diseases and Medical Virology at the University of St Andrews School of Medicine in Scotland. No outdoor masking was needed here. “We are at another stage of the pandemic. I don’t think outdoor masks should have been mandatory at all. It’s not the place where infections or infections occur.”

“Let’s go running maskless. Put a mask in your pocket,” tweeted. Dr. Nahid Badelia, Physician for infectious diseases and medical director of the Special Pathogens Unit at the Boston Medical Center. “Given how conservative I was in my opinion all year round, this generally shows how low the risk of outdoor infections for short-term contact is, and even lower after vaccination. I should be wearing a mask in case I’m stationary in the crowd and heading indoors. “

To understand how low the risk of outdoor infection is Italian researcher A mathematical model was used to calculate the time it takes for a person to become infected outdoors in Milan. They envisioned a severe scenario in which 10 percent of the population was infected with Covid-19. According to their calculations, if a person avoids the crowd, an average of 31.5 days of continuous outdoor exposure is required to inhale enough virus to spread the infection.

Daniel Contini, an aerosol scientist and senior author of the study at the Institute for Atmospheric Science and Climate in Lecce, Italy, said:

According to virus experts, the physics of outdoor viral infections have not changed, even with the spread of more infectious viral variants, and the risk of being infected outdoors is still low. Be aware of community infection rates. If the number of cases is increasing rapidly, the risk of encountering an infected person increases.

Dr. Cevik discusses discussions about outdoor masking and article display Photo of crowded beach During the pandemic, it left people with the false impression that parks and beaches were unsafe, distracting them from the much higher risk of indoor infections. Often, the highest risk is indoor activities related to outdoor enjoyment. For example, take off your mask by subway or car and go hiking, or stop by a pub after spending time on the beach. “People barbecue outdoors, but then chat indoors in the kitchen,” said Dr. Sevic.

As more people are vaccinated, the decision to be maskless outdoors becomes easier. No vaccine provides 100% protection, but so far the breakthrough infection rate has been very low. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported only 5,800 cases of breakthrough infections among 75 million vaccinated people. The CDC also states that vaccinated friends and family can safely spend time together without a mask.

However, you may continue to wear the mask outdoors if desired. After a year of pandemic prophylaxis, it can be difficult for people to adapt to less restrictive behavior. Salit A. GorabA professor of psychology at City University of New York Hunter College said it was important for both the media and public health authorities to tell why behaviors such as outdoor masking could be changed.

“In the coming months,’normal life’ will begin to become safer, but some people are willing or unable to relax pandemic restrictions in a reasonable way. I’m worried about it, “said Dr. Gorab. “I’m worried that people have internalized the messages of fear without understanding why they are behind certain action recommendations, so I understand why they can be changed in response to changing circumstances. I have not.”

Greg GonzalvesAn assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health said he was recently with a group of parents, including many vaccinated doctors he met in New Haven Park to celebrate his child’s first birthday. “We were all just standing and all were masked, and then we started asking,’When can I get out and take off my mask?'” Dr. Gonzalves said. Told. “If people are vaccinated and you are outdoors, you probably don’t need a mask at this point.”

But Dr. Gonzalves said he understands why some people don’t want to give up their masks outdoors. “Some of this is Covid’s hangover,” he said. “We are very traumatized by all of this. I think those who are struggling to let go need a little compassion.”

Illustration by Eden Weingart



Do I still need to keep wearing the mask outdoors?

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