When states had strict stay-at-home orders and lockdowns in place, many decisions about the risk of getting the coronavirus were simple. People didn’t have to think about whether dining in a restaurant is safe if the restaurant was closed. Now, as states open up — perhaps prematurely, and with varying degrees of precautions and adherence in place — individuals will need to weigh some risks on their own.
This article at Vox provides a summary of expert advice on what you can do to protect yourself when leaving your home – beyond the 6 feet of social distancing. The central risk is the droplets that people exhale or spread while talking. This is the reason why everyone needs to wear a mask, but the risk is higher indoors when more people are gathered in a space with poor ventilation.
Perhaps helpful: Imagine everyone is smoking, as Ed Yong reported in the Atlantic, and you’d like to avoid inhaling as much smoke as possible. In a cramped indoor space, that smoke is going to get dense and heavy fast. If the windows are open, some of that smoke will blow away. If fewer people are in the space, less smoke will accumulate, and it might not waft over to you if you’re standing far enough away. But spend a lot of time in an enclosed space with those people, and the smoke grows denser.
The denser the smoke, the more likely it is to affect you. It’s the same with this virus: The more of it you inhale, the more likely you are to get sick.