By Heather Grey
Earlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 at community events and gatherings.
The agency has also issued recommendations to help people manage the risk during other personal and social activities.
In these guidelines, the CDC emphasizes the importance of staying home when sick, maintaining physical distancing, wearing face masks, and practicing good hand hygiene.
The agency also advises event organizers to take local circumstances into account when deciding whether or not to host, cancel, postpone, or otherwise adjust an event or gathering.
"[The CDC guidance] is very much based on the desire to give everybody an idea of what the risks are and help people make informed decisions on how to reduce the risks as low as possible," Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, an emergency physician and director of global health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York, told Healthline.
"It's based on the best available evidence on what we know about how this virus is spread, with the understanding that people are going to have different risk tolerances," he added.
Some Activities Pose Higher Risk
Some types of community events, gatherings, and activities pose greater risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission than others, warns the CDC.
Virtual events and gatherings held online or over the phone provide the safest option for connecting with other people, the agency advises.
When it comes to in-person activities, smaller outdoor gatherings tend to pose lower risk than larger gatherings and those held indoors.
The less time that people spend in close contact with each other, the less likely they are to contract the virus or pass it to others — especially if everyone wears a face mask.
"The most effective way to reduce risk is to avoid large indoor gatherings altogether. This setting poses the highest risk of exposure and potential transmission of the virus," Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told Healthline.
"Outdoor events while wearing a mask represent a safer option," he continued.
"Virtual meetings are the best way to have a meeting in this context," he said.
Risk Varies From Place to Place
When someone is assessing the risk that an event, gathering, or other activity may pose, the CDC encourages them to take their local circumstances into account.
Some municipalities and states have issued stricter guidelines and rules around events, gatherings, and other activities, compared with others.
The rate of transmission and how likely you are to get the virus also vary from place to place, both within and between states.
If an event or gathering is held in an area where virus transmission rates are high, that raises the risk that someone with SARS-CoV-2 will attend and pass it on to others.
If someone travels to an event or gathering from outside the local area, they may carry the virus with them or pick it up in transit and pass it to other attendees after they arrive.
"Having a family reunion where people are flying in from 30 different states is much riskier than having a cookout with your neighbors," Cioe-Pena said.
Some People More Vulnerable
Some community members face heightened risk of developing severe illness if they do contract SARS-CoV-2.
For example, older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be more likely to develop a severe infection or complications.
The CDC advises people to take those personal risk factors into account when planning an activity or deciding whether to participate in one.
"If it's a family gathering where there are a fair number of older persons who are over age 60, many of whom likely have underlying illnesses, that's a group I'd be much more cautious about," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Healthline.
"If the COVID virus got to that gathering and spread among them, it could make a lot of them very seriously ill," he said.
Protect Yourself and Others
To lower your risk for contracting or transmitting SARS-CoV-2, the CDC recommends keeping at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and members of other households.
When you can't maintain 6 feet of distance from members of other households or you're spending time around those people indoors, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.
If you're helping to host an event, gathering, or other activity, you may need to limit attendance, make changes to the layout of your venue, or use other strategies to enable attendees to keep their distance from each other.
If your guests or event attendees will be eating with each other, consider asking them to bring their own food and drinks or take steps to limit the number of people who touch food containers, condiments, and serving ware.
For example, designate one person to serve all of the food.
Frequent handwashing is also important for reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, the CDC advises. So is regularly cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs and light switches.
When in Doubt, Stay Home
If you've tested positive for the virus or have symptoms of COVID-19, or you've had close contact with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days, the CDC advises you to stay home.
If you're hosting an event or gatherings, ask attendees to stay home if they've tested positive for the virus, have any symptoms, or been in close contact with someone with symptoms in the past 2 weeks.
"I think we have to be very mindful that social distancing has flattened the curve in many parts of this country, and if we want to keep it flat, we have to keep doing that," Schaffner said.
"I know it's tedious, I know it's disruptive, I know it's uncomfortable. I know it makes many people unhappy — but it's necessary," he added.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.