Fauci: How to avoid COVID-19 when outside

Although it’s safer than being indoors, there are still precautions that need to be taken

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Dr. Anthony Fauci has been one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts for more than 30 years, so most people listen when he talks.

He’s the expert who has told us to wear a mask, socially distance and wash our hands. Perhaps everyone’s favorite piece of advice is to get outdoors, which is safer than being around others inside.

On August 13, Fauci said: “I would get as much outdoors as you possibly can. If you look at the super spreader events that have occurred, I think it’s incorrect to call people super spreaders. The event is super spread. They’re almost always inside super spreader events—in nursing homes, meat-packing, prisons, choirs in churches, congregations of weddings and other social events where people get together. It’s almost invariable. Nothing’s 100%, but it’s almost invariable that it’s indoors. So when you are indoors, make sure you have a mask when you’re outdoors, keep the mask on.”

Some people might have misunderstood what Fauci meant, however.

Being outside is "much less of a risk, but it is a risk, if you are congregating in a way where, for prolonged periods of time, you’re really close together,” Fauci told Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green during a Q&A on Wednesday. “So you really have to strike a delicate balance.”

Green asked if being outdoors — on a beach, for example — is a risk for coronavirus transmission.

Fauci did have advice for people who want to gather, but he emphasized, “I’m not saying this is perfect.”

“If you separate into almost like pods of people that you know are being careful — maybe people who have been tested, you know they’re negative, you know they’re not being reckless — and stay with them, but not all over them,” Fauci said. “You could be separated by a fair amount. Obviously you’re not want to be wearing a mask when you jump in the water. Swim around, have fun. But when you come out, when you’re congregating, put a mask on.”

Although outdoors is better than indoors, he said, it’s not foolproof. Continue to wear your mask and wash your hands.