As people all over the world practice social distancing to help stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the question becomes how to stay entertained and maintain some sort of normalcy for the weeks and possibly months to come.
Social distancing and self quarantine don’t mean people need to stay isolated indoors all day, health professionals say. Dr. Bud Lawrence, medical director of the Emergency Department at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, said it is safe to go outside so long as proper safety measures are observed.
“Close prolonged contact with someone infected by the coronavirus is the major risk, but you can go outside and exercise with some appropriate social distancing,” Lawrence said. “Running, hiking and biking are some activities that can be done outdoors while maintaining a reasonable distance of at least 6 feet from someone. Aside from that, I don’t see any reason that people can’t be outdoors getting fresh air and sunlight.”
Local resident Jim Stone said his family would be spending time outdoors by going to the beach, hiking, playing Frisbee at the park and camping. Maddie Thompson said she and her family might try making s’mores outside.
“I’m planning to go to the beach, and hope that it isn’t too crowded,” Stone said. “I plan on bringing hand sanitizer and not touching public surfaces that people might have spread germs on. As for camping, I’ll probably find a place in the Los Angeles forest that’s away from other people.”
So long as a safe distance is maintained, Lawrence said there is no problem visiting places like the beach or the forest.
“You were going to hang out with your family at home anyway, so as long as you’re being safe there’s nothing to say that you can’t do that in a tent on the beach or in a camper up in the mountains,” he said.
Many people are now working from home to avoid contracting or spreading the virus, and pet owners have more time to spend time with them. According to both the American Kennel Club and the World Health Organization, there is no current risk to dogs contracting the virus.
Additionally, a statement on the WHO website said, “While there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.”
With many people working from home and not having to spend time commuting, some are using this as an opportunity to practice some new hobbies. Terry Mitchell Collier said she’s using her extra time to improve her iPhone photography skills.
“With this awesome rain all of the colors are sharp and the surfaces are super shiny so I’ve been hitting the paseos, like the hidden gem behind the YMCA,” she said. “I’ve been getting out on weekends and, now that the kids are home from the school closures, I have to do quick shots in the morning before they start their online school.”
Others aren’t having to go as far to experience the outdoors. Raychel Stewart is taking the opportunity to go into her backyard and get a home improvement project done.
“My dad built a room in my backyard that connects to my house because my siblings and I were in no way going to share rooms,” Stewart said. “Since my sister moved into her own house about 10 years ago, the room has become a storage area and pet room. It needs to be totally renovated. I’m talking about fresh floors, paint, everything. I will be the one to renovate it during this time.”
Overall, in spite of the very real dangers of coronavirus, health professionals say people should still try to spend some time outside.
“There’s a high level of anxiety in our community, and in getting outside for fresh air to calm your mind and ground yourself,” Lawrence said. “Staying inside can increase the sense of quarantine and worsen that anxiety, and people who aren’t infected with the virus going outside should improve their overall health. Just have a reasonable sense of awareness of health and distance, cough into your mouth and elbow and refrain from touching your face as we move into this next phase of COVID-19 in Santa Clarita.”