Masks outdoors --- necessary?

This is from a program on public radio. The virus doesn't do well outdoors. It thrives indoors when we are not with our "pod."

Maplewood requires masks in the downtown area. 


Should this be revisited in light of current data?


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

This is from a program on public radio. The virus doesn't do well outdoors. It thrives indoors when we are not with our "pod."

Maplewood requires masks in the downtown area. 

Should this be revisited in light of current data?

 CNN says... probably not. https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/22/health/masks-outdoors-need/index.html 

OTOH, I visit hospitals frequently, even before being vaccinated (you do what you gotta do) and they have not changed their protocol regarding vaccinations. I think they'd be the first...


All of the advice I have seen and read advises that it is necessary to continue wearing a face covering out of doors even if you are fully vaccinated for the following reasons: (1) Those fully vaccinated can still contract COVID - 19.  (2) Those fully vaccinated can still spread COVID - 19 to others.  (3) The COVID - 19 virus is constantly mutating now.  New variants, including several now in NJ, may be more infectious than the "original" strain we experienced last year and could spread more easily out of doors.  The current vaccine may not protect those fully vaccinated from some of these new variants.  

Obviously, those not vaccinated need to continue wearing face coverings since they are even more at risk.


I feel safe outdoors (and post-vaccination) but wear the mask mostly to make other people feel comfortable, with the caveat that it depends on the time of day and how many people are around.  If I'm on an early morning dog walk when streets are mostly empty, I probably won't be wearing it but will give someone walking in the opposite direction a wide berth, or cross street, to make them feel comfortable.  


Formerlyjerseyjack said:

This is from a program on public radio. The virus doesn't do well outdoors. It thrives indoors when we are not with our "pod."

Maplewood requires masks in the downtown area. 

Should this be revisited in light of current data?

If you're not "distanced" from others outdoors, masks are recommended.  I don't know about you, but I can't keep "distanced" all the time, walking through Maplewood Village. 

Do We Still Need to Keep Wearing Masks Outdoors? - The New York Times (nytimes.com) 

[Edited to add] Explained in pictures, from the article.


marylago said:

 CNN says... probably not. https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/22/health/masks-outdoors-need/index.html 

OTOH, I visit hospitals frequently, even before being vaccinated (you do what you gotta do) and they have not changed their protocol regarding vaccinations. I think they'd be the first...

 Not a contradiction. Hospitals are "inside." The questions is if masks should be required outside.


There are reports of Covid transmission at outdoor bbq's and other events where people are in closer proximity to each other. So, the 2-out-of-3 rule that Nohero posted seems about right. Masks are still needed outdoors when not distanced from others.

From Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health:


ETA: Updated with tweet embedded


"Sanjay Gupta, MD, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, talked about masks Thursday on New Day. If you're vaccinated, "I'd say for the most part, you don't need to wear a mask outdoors," he said.

Ashish Jha, MD, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told NBC News:

“At this point in the pandemic, with more than half of Americans vaccinated, it's pretty reasonable to start thinking about peeling back outdoor mask mandates. … Requiring everybody walking down the street to wear one is probably not needed.”

https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20210423/outdoor-mask-use


And keep in mind that there's a difference between the momentary outdoor passing of two people and two people sitting next to each other for hours in a stadium watching a ball game cheering and shouting etc.   I think the consensus for a while has been that the former scenario is minimally dangerous, even without vaccination.   


@cramer

I'm not inclined to go with the opinion of Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, 2017-19 (appointed by Trump), who serves on the boards of Pfizer and Illumina -- and publishes in the WSJ. His inclination is unlikely to be towards public health.


bub said:

And keep in mind that there's a difference between the momentary outdoor passing of two people and two people sitting next to each other for hours in a stadium watching a ball game cheering and shouting etc.   I think the consensus for a while has been that the former scenario is minimally dangerous, even without vaccination.   

I was on my front walk the other day working on my flowerbed, maskless, since no one was around. Then a cyclist went quickly by, but he passed quite close to me along the road. He was also maskless. And he was coughing like crazy, these deep strong coughs, as he cycled by.

What would you do?  What would your sense of risk be upon hearing that symptom just a few steps away, even though the passing was brief? (I quickly moved to be farther away from his coughing area). How low is the risk of catching Covid from someone quickly passing outside if they're a coughing (symptomatic) Covid carrier?


bub said:

And keep in mind that there's a difference between the momentary outdoor passing of two people and two people sitting next to each other for hours in a stadium watching a ball game cheering and shouting etc.   I think the consensus for a while has been that the former scenario is minimally dangerous, even without vaccination.   

I agree with this assessment overall but for things like walking around either downtown, I'll default to keeping a mask on. It's no skin off my nose to wear a mask, and you never know when you're going to run into someone in town who wants to chat. A great thing about SOMA is the spontaneous conversation clusters of people who congregate in public spaces (just not in front of the entrance to Carvel please).

Those clusters can be problematic even outside. I know there are factors like distance and whether the wind is blowing or if one of your friends is a spit-talker. Simplest thing is to keep your mask on!


sprout said:

@cramer

I'm not inclined to go with the opinion of Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, 2017-19 (appointed by Trump), who serves on the boards of Pfizer and Illumina -- and publishes in the WSJ. His inclination is unlikely to be towards public health.

 What about Drs. Sanjay Gupta, Ashish Jha and Leana Wen? 



What about someone vaccinated or not who does not wear a face covering and encounters someone else not wearing a face covering while both are out of doors?  Now suppose one is infected with COVID - 19, symptomatic or not, and infects the other.  If the other then develops a serious case of COVID - 19 and ends up in the hospital, is it worth the risk of going without a face covering?  As was stated above, wearing a face covering is not that difficult at this point.  Why not take a position of caution a little while longer?  Don't we all want to see this pandemic behind us sooner rather than later?  What are the risks of wearing a face covering out of doors?  What are the risks of not doing so?


I'm pretty spooked about this virus and will wear a mask around people even outside. I was told by a friend that someone we know who is a health professional contracted Covid, was hospitalized and intubated despite have had both shots. It dashed my hopes that I could start relaxing.


cramer said:

sprout said:

@cramer

I'm not inclined to go with the opinion of Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, 2017-19 (appointed by Trump), who serves on the boards of Pfizer and Illumina -- and publishes in the WSJ. His inclination is unlikely to be towards public health.

 What about Drs. Sanjay Gupta, Ashish Jha and Leana Wen? 

Dr. Gupta's quote includes "... for the most part".  But he leaves out what the other part is, and that is a critical missing element.

At the moment, I'm leaning towards Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. It makes logical sense that Covid can spread outdoors when in close proximity/discussions with others (like at backyard BBQ's, as she indicates has been occurring). Likely the same with outdoor sports (sitting on the bench with teammates, playing defense against the opposing team, often while breathing hard).  

In other words:

1. What the other doctors need to indicate is that when outdoors, if not socially distanced, masking is still needed (again, as indicated in Nohero's posted graphic).

2. The grayest area is the casual passing of people close by, but momentarily - such as on sidewalks or hiking trails. And that is why I brought up the coughing cyclist. Maybe this is generally low risk, but when the cyclist continuously coughed right next to me while quickly passing, my sense of risk immediately increased. My sense is that the risk is not zero, but is very small. So, I'm more comfortable outside in the path of a passing person's breath with a mask on.


The other condition of Dr. Gupta's quote is "if you are vaccinated..." 

Currently, under 20% of people in Essex county are fully vaccinated, and it's below 15% in neighboring counties. https://data.rgj.com/covid-19-vaccine-tracker/new-jersey/34/


sprout said:

The other condition of Dr. Gupta's quote is "if you are vaccinated..." 

Currently, under 20% of people in Essex county are fully vaccinated, and it's below 15% in neighboring counties. https://data.rgj.com/covid-19-vaccine-tracker/new-jersey/34/

 And this despite there being literally thousands of shots available for Essex County residents/workers: https://www.essexcovid.org/index.php/vaccine/vaccine_availability


I would guess a large unvaccinated group are low-income and immigrant individuals who are not able to enroll online, don't know it is free, and/or who are in a pharmacy desert.


There may be access issues but I get the impression from what I'm reading and even from talking to people directly that, unfortunately, there's a disproportionate anti-vax sentiment/anxiety among minorities and I don't know how we are going to change that.


Assume anyone you meet is breathing out covid -- can you keep enough distance to reduce your odds of breathing enough in to get infected? If not, wear a mask. Assume you yourself are breathing out covid -- can you keep enough distance to reduce the risk of people around you breathing in to get infected? If not, wear a mask.

That's the intuition I've been using this past year. I think it aligns pretty well with nohero's graphic. In practice, this means I wear a mask if there's people around (eg downtown SO or Maplewood, often parks, etc) and always indoors. Now that the weather's nicer I nearly always just have the mask around my neck even when walking in my neighborhood where I can keep distance, as I'm likely to come across a group of people. I'll just slip it back on then. Absolutely necessary? Probably not, but in addition to reducing risk I hope it also helps reinforce the message that we should continue taking this seriously even as vaccinations roll out.


sprout said:  

ETA: How do you embed a tweet?

 Copy the embed code from the tweet first.  Then you need to click this widget icon and paste the code in there:


My understanding is that masks are not necessary outdoors, and I'm noticing a bit less wearing of masks outdoors. So & Ma downtown still pretty masky but other streets and parks less so versus a few months ago. Also big difference down the shore - I was at Long Branch boardwalk this weekend and mask wearing was maybe 5%. Was more like 40-50% six months ago.  

I do however think common courtesy dictates that people should still mask OR distance, which I make a point to do. If I'm wearing a mask I'm ok with passing on sidewalk, but if I'm not I'm still going around, onto the street or the grass. 


data changes quickly, may change back the other way tomorrow.

I've had ridiculous people go off on me for not having my mask on when I get out of my car where there is NOT a crowd.  In that particular situation it was not safe for me to have a mask on. My mobility is bad, it is intensive exercise for me to climb out of the car.  It was has also snowed and the parking lot wasn't cleared great/had cracks/holes which make it even harder for me to walk.  I have found walking with a mask in that situation causes me to trip more.  I do always ensure I get the mask on before I am going to be near any crowd or go into a building, but for that 15 seconds it took me to get to a safe spot for me to use a mask, a a h outside thought he had to come up to me to b otch about the mask....rather than just let me walk off and quickly get the mask on...never mind the fact that he could have just kept to himself .....he created a situation which delayed me from getting the mask on and out himself face too face with me...instead of just letting me walk away from people to quickly put a mask on (my mask was around my neck...clearly visible....)

I'm all for continuing to have a mask IN A CROWD...not if you are passing a limited number of people on the street or parking  lot where total exposure time would be less than a couple minutes.  If you are walking around your block, and not many people are out, you are fine without a mask on.  If you are sitting in a crowded park or in a crowded downtown area, even distancing 6 feet, a mask is a good idea....25 feet, maybe not so necessary, but if dozens of people are passing within close proximity, that would make me uneasy.

another thing to consider is how high your risk is of exposure...if you are going to bars/restaurants/on crowded trains (even with masks), visiting various people.....you are at higher risk and need to wear a mask more than someone who only goes out for necessities and interacts with 1 other person regularly.

current findings is there is a VERY LOW rate of transmission from people who are vaccinated, we don't pick up the virus at all most of the time.

sprout said:

bub said:

And keep in mind that there's a difference between the momentary outdoor passing of two people and two people sitting next to each other for hours in a stadium watching a ball game cheering and shouting etc.   I think the consensus for a while has been that the former scenario is minimally dangerous, even without vaccination.   

I was on my front walk the other day working on my flowerbed, maskless, since no one was around. Then a cyclist went quickly by, but he passed quite close to me along the road. He was also maskless. And he was coughing like crazy, these deep strong coughs, as he cycled by.

What would you do?  What would your sense of risk be upon hearing that symptom just a few steps away, even though the passing was brief? (I quickly moved to be farther away from his coughing area). How low is the risk of catching Covid from someone quickly passing outside if they're a coughing (symptomatic) Covid carrier?

 now that is just rude, if you are coughing like that, you need to stop, get away from people, put on a mask, and go home.  if you know it is likely allergies or something non contagious, you can go back out when the symptom subsides...and besides how do you cover a cough while speeding by on a bike?  I assume he was just coughing into the air?


when going maskless, you should always have one you can throw on quick if someone comes by and wants to chat.....


currently in NJ, masks are legally required outside when in a CROWD....with the exceptions such as exercising or eating.


BTW I would steer clear of people coughing or sneezing pre-Covid.   I hate being sick.


Wearing a mask outside is like going to bed by yourself and wearing a condom. 


Biden expected to announce updated mask guidance on Tuesday

President Biden is expected to announce on Tuesday updated guidance on masking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two sources confirmed to The Hill...

https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/550271-biden-expected-to-announce-updated-mask-guidance-on-tuesday


prisoners_dilemma said:

Wearing a mask outside is like going to bed by yourself and wearing a condom. 

I would guess the probabilities of getting Covid outdoors while maskless and having a close conversation with someone are not far from the probabilities of a pregnancy occurring when using the withdrawal method.

And IIRC, going to bed by oneself and wearing a condom is sometimes done by males for ease-of-cleanup purposes? So, perhaps not an uncommon occurrence.



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