This Is Exactly How Long You Can Safely Spend With Someone While Maskless

The CDC's recently updated guidelines have made it clear how quickly coronavirus can spread.

By now, it's become clear that the most likely way you can catch the novel coronavirus is through droplets—whether large or aerosolized—that are expelled from an infected person talking, coughing, or sneezing when you're nearby. In fact, it's become so clear that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even updated their health guidelines to suggest that spending so much as 15 minutes over the course of a day within six feet of an infected person makes you likely to catch the virus. That's after the CDC conducted a study that concluded all it took was a few short interactions over the course of a day at work for a correctional officer to contract COVID. But the CDC's new study also highlights another key factor that comes into play with close contact: whether or not you're wearing a mask. Read on for more about the everyday implications of the CDC's new guidelines, and for the areas that should pay extra attention, here are 10 States on the Verge of COVID Surges.

According to medical experts, the recent report from the CDC may greatly increase the number of "close contacts" that a person encounters on a daily basis, but it also highlights the importance of PPE in preventing the spread of the disease. In a joint report compiled with health officials in Vermont, the CDC found that a 20-year-old prison employee contracted the virus after having 22 short interactions with infected individuals totaling 17 minutes over an eight-hour shift. Each of the interactions lasted between 10 and 60 seconds, and while the officer wore both a cloth mask and protective goggles in every instance, there were some interactions where the infected individuals were not.

So, what does this prove? "There is no safe period of time to be with somebody who's not part of your bubble if both of you are not wearing masks," according to Ashish Jha, MD, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. "It's really critical that people wear masks if you're going to be with somebody for any period of time, even if it's less than 15 minutes," he told CNN.

If you absolutely must spend time with people you don't live with, read on for more about how the CDC recommends you can do it safely. And if you're worried you could be sick, know that If You Can't Taste These 2 Things, You May Have COVID.

Get tested before visiting someone

A female nurse conducts a nasal swab on a young man for a coronavirus test and contact tracing

One of the greatest risks you can pose to your friends and family is visiting them while you are asymptomatic but contagious with the coronavirus. If you're planning on meeting with people or attending a small event, make sure you get tested and receive a negative result before going.

Bring extra masks and sanitizer with you

Coronavirus prevention medical surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitizer gel for hand hygiene corona virus protection. Face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to stop spreading outbreak covid-19

The CDC recommends packing a few extra face masks and hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to make sure everyone in your group is covered—literally, in this case. And for more on the importance of PPE, check out The CDC Now Says You Should Wear Your Mask in These 7 Places.

Move your meeting outdoors

white man and white woman with face masks talking outside

Indoor spaces with poor ventilation have been proven time and time again to be one of the most high-risk environments for spreading the virus. If at all possible, move your event to an outdoor space—or at the very least, try to increase ventilation by opening windows to introduce fresh air.

Keep six feet of distance from others

young man and woman greet and say hello to each other while wearing masks and sitting 6 feet apart

Even though the stress of the pandemic may have you wanting to be as close as possible to your friends or loved ones, you may be putting them or yourself at risk by failing to socially distance. Make sure to sit six feet apart—even diagonally from each other, if possible—to lower your risk of contamination. And for more regular updates on COVID, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Always wear your mask

Two female friends walking down a Brooklyn alley wearing face masks on a sunny Autumn day, having a quiet conversation.
NicolasMcComber / iStock

Top medical experts all agree: wearing your mask is the very best way to protect your loved ones from being accidentally infected. Even if you're going out to a restaurant and must remove your mask to eat, experts suggest putting it back on in between courses or whenever your server approaches the table. And for more on where certain areas are with the virus, check out These 5 States Are Showing the First Signs of Another Lockdown.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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