What to Consider When Choosing to Gather

Aug 05, 2020

With elevated COVID-19 case numbers in the Miami Valley and a statewide mask mandate in place, is it safe to gather? Here’s what to consider.


Know the risks

No public gathering is risk-free during the pandemic. “What’s so insidious about this virus is that well-intentioned people who have no idea they’re carrying it can spread it to others,” says Jeffrey Weinstein, MD, infectious disease specialist with Kettering Health Network.

When deciding whether to host or attend a social activity, People need to ask themselves: How important is this gathering? How many people will be there? How far apart will I be from them?” Dr. Weinstein says.

Dr. Weinstein and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise would-be gatherers to take into account:


Location and length of the event.

The risk of transmission is higher in situations of prolonged close contact in an enclosed space,” Dr. Weinstein explains. It's safer to gather outdoors, where it’s easier to maintain social distancing and the ventilation is better. If you must be indoors, open windows. Also, staying within your community is less risky than traveling.


Your risk for severe COVID-19 complications.

If you or someone you live with is older or has underlying health problems, gathering could be especially risky.

How active the virus is in the area.

“The higher the prevalence, the higher the chance of transmission,” says Dr. Weinstein. “Currently, COVID-19 rates are much higher in the Miami Valley than they were in April and May,” Check local updates and guidelines for the latest information.


Take precautions

If you decide to gather, help prevent the spread:

  • If you're sick or have had close contact with someone who is, stay home.
  • Ask beforehand what COVID-19 precautions the hosts will take.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer. “You might want to bring your own sanitizer to use after touching any high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, handrails, and countertops,” Dr. Weinstein says.
  • Arrange furniture so it's easier to stay 6 feet apart. Post signs to remind people to maintain distance.
  • Have one person serve food and drinks so only one pair of hands touch the serving utensils. Better yet, have guests bring their own refreshments.
  • Offer activities that allow for social distancing, such as playing catch or drawing sidewalk chalk art.
  • Resist the urge to exchange handshakes or hugs.
  • Wear a cloth face mask. And remind everyone attending to bring theirs.


“Wearing a mask is an act of altruism,” Dr. Weinstein says. “I wear one to protect you, and you wear one to protect me. Everyone should wear a mask anytime they’re out of the house and won’t be 6 feet away from other people.”

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