Weighing the Risks after Reopening


With the state’s re-opening plans in effect and warmer weather, there’s strong temptation to get out of the house and get back to activities. The transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) is still a concern in our communities though, so we need to take precautions, for ourselves and the safety of those around us, said Family Medicine Physician Joseph Rubacky, DO. He offers insight on which activities are less risky than others and what to consider in our decision-making as we return to activity.

“We’re not able to eliminate the COVID-19 risk altogether, but we can take steps to mitigate our risk,” Dr. Rubacky said. Also, different people have different needs in terms of what is acceptable risk. Generally speaking, someone in their 30s might accept more risk than someone in their 80s but the caveat is a younger person may be living with or interacting with older relatives, which presents another layer in evaluating that risk.

Outdoor activities, for the most part, are safer because it’s easier for people spread out and maintain necessary distance, said Dr. Rubacky. “If you’re taking part in these activities with people outside your own family you should continue to take the basic measures that we know work really well in reducing spread—physical distancing of 6 feet or more, masking, and good hand hygiene and sanitation practices.”


Lower Risk

  • Walking, running or bike riding
  • Surf fishing or boating
  • Tennis or pickleball – mark balls with a sharpie and only serve your own.
  • Golfing – walk the course to avoid the cart altogether, and if you can’t, ride by yourself or a family member only, and step away from one another when putting.
  • Enjoying the beach – find a spot without the crowds, or go early and stake your territory. Measure six feet around the chairs of your group and put flags around the perimeter. This may sound extreme, but it’s a good way to mark your area and easily ensure the safe distance.
  • Swimming – based on studies so far, it appears the virus is not transmitted through water. Avoiding close contact with others in the water may be a little trickier, depending on the environment.
  • Medical appointments – all healthcare facilities and doctor offices have enacted strict safety protocols, making it one of the safest businesses you’ll encounter, so people should feel comfortable if they need to be seen. It’s far riskier to put off needed treatment or a medical visit when you’re not well. 

Moderate Risk

  • Shopping – visit stores that are less crowded and avoid peak times and always wear a mask.
  • Restaurants – eating or drinking outdoors with fewer people and more room in between makes this less risky. Another option is to get takeout or delivery or enjoy a happy hour in your driveway with chalk lines marking out the appropriate spacing between friends.

Higher Risk

  • Public transportation – in Delaware this is much less an issue than in crowded cities, but if you need to use mass transit, wearing a mask and washing hands or using sanitizer before boarding and once you get off is crucial.
  • Play among kids – this is more an issue for younger children who have a difficult time maintaining physical distancing. Playing outside and avoiding the sharing of toys or equipment reduces the risk, but very close supervision is necessary.
  • Indoor church services – one of the riskiest elements is singing in close proximity as it spews a lot of viral particles in the air. Participating in open-air or drive-through services are recommended alternatives.
  • Bars and nightclubs – it’s considerably harder to maintain distance in these environments and people tend to let their guard down when alcohol is involved.

If you’re looking to get back on track with your health and are seeking a primary care or specialty care provider, visit Bayhealth.org/ Find-A-Doc for our online directory of physicians, or call 1-866-BAY-DOCS (229-3627) to be referred to one who can meet your needs.