As the coronavirus ordeal continues, it’s astonishing to hear the refrain from government officials, celebrities, talking heads, and social media scolds to “stay inside“. President Trump did it again today at his press conference. WTF? In northern England a man was arrested for “unauthorized walking”. Orders to “shelter in place” are often interpreted to mean “don’t go outside your home” except when necessary, as if active shooters are marauding through neighborhoods. In fairness, I don’t think anyone in the U.S. has yet been arrested for taking a walk, except for this incident, which is bad enough. Still, the misplaced emphasis of such rhetoric is confusing to people. The threat to civil liberties is one thing, but the suggestion that we should all stay inside is itself a threat to public health.
If you can get out of your home without coming face-to-face with others, you SHOULD get outside whenever you can! Get out in the sun and out of the forced-air, dehumidified environment that is your dwelling unit. Get some vitamin D and breath some fresh, humid air.
Here’s a personal anecdote: My yard backs-up to an extensive wooded area of a huge corporate campus. It was built years ago, and ever since, the company has welcomed residents of our neighborhood to walk the grounds. The company even maintains an access road that connects our street to a route that is often more convenient than our main entrance. A very good neighbor. I was out walking along one of the roads through the campus yesterday. Employees have not reported to work there for three weeks due to an employee’s diagnosis with the virus, so it was very quiet. A security guard drove by and stopped to tell me that I could no longer walk the campus due to the coronavirus. “That’s corporate policy now with this thing…”, he trailed off. As if my solitary stroll through the campus would contribute to the spread of the virus! Again, WTF? Of course, it is private property and they are entitled to make their own rules. I’m okay with that, but the virus is nonsensical as a rationale.
Public parks are closed in many areas. I understand the wisdom of discouraging people from mingling and preventing the virus’s spread via surfaces like park benches and playground equipment. Nevertheless, I believe parks should remain open to individuals or families for walking, running or resting. Just keep your distance.
You are highly unlikely to catch the virus outside unless you are in close proximity to an individual with the virus. Even then it’s unlikely. Yes, it can survive in air for about three hours, carried along in fine, exhaled aerosols. That is of much greater concern indoors, where the air is still and its volume limited. It is quickly dispersed outdoors into the vast atmosphere. And again, the virus is likely to degrade quickly in warm temperatures (> 54 degrees), direct sunlight, and high absolute humidity. All three are covered in this report. So enjoy your yard, your porch, your street, or at least open your windows when you can.