Can COVID-19 spread outdoors?


Anastasia Yurgel

According to the CDC, being outdoors lowers your risk of becoming infected with COVID-19. Still, it is necessary to take other precautions, such as wearing a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

Belief: I cannot get exposed to COVID-19 outdoors.

Reality: Being outdoors can reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19, but it is essential to avoid crowded spaces and take other precautions.

Wearing a mask and social distancing are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Rochester Regional Health. Wash your hands before and after going outside and avoid crowded areas and close contact with others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that activities are safest when “you can maintain at least 6 feet of space between you and others, they are held in outdoor spaces, and people are wearing masks.” Being outdoors is safer than being indoors because it is easier for people to distance themselves from others. 

Outside, fresh air moves continuously, dispersing respiratory droplets. So, individuals are less likely to breathe in droplets that contain the virus that causes COVID-19. 

The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding crowded sidewalks and narrow paths that make it more difficult to social distance. If you cannot practice social distancing, it is best to stay home, but if you must contact people outside of your household, wear a mask.

Tips for Reducing Risk of Getting COVID-19 / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) / / Public Domain

At the moment, Scott Morrow, the San Mateo County health officer, strongly discourages meeting with people outside of your household.

Finally, the New York Times explains that spending more time with someone may increase your risk. For example, two people sitting on a blanket for an extended amount of time have a higher risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 than two people who pass each other while walking. 

According to the CDC, spending more time with someone is risky because “the more closely you interact with others, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.”