MINT HILL, NC – Although vaccines that offer protection against COVID-19 are now widely available, the continuing spread of the Delta Variant necessitates that we all take additional commonsense precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. Dr. James Reed from Novant Health Mint Hill Family Medicine offers tips on how to keep you and your family safe at a potentially crowded event like Mint Hill Madness.
The evidence is clear: outdoors is the safer choice when it comes to socializing with people from outside your household. “All the data shows that outdoor activities do not have the same spread and infection rates as indoors,” says Dr. Reed. “Being indoors where you’re trapped and air is stuck is higher risk than almost anything outdoors.”
Exactly how at-risk you are at an outdoor event boils down to two factors: the size and density of the crowd. “If there are thousands of people packed within a foot or two of each other, the risk goes up,” says Reed. “If the density is such that you’re not right next to people, the risk goes down.”
Because risk varies based on the crowd, Reed recommends bringing a mask with you to Mint Hill Madness – even if you’re vaccinated. “Masks do give some added level of protection around a bunch of people,” says Reed, who urges people to use common sense. “If you can see there’s no one for 20’ in front of you, then you don’t need a mask. But if just one person has it and they’re right next to you, you’re at increased risk without a mask.”
Keep in mind that any heavy activity where the participant breathes hard increases risk of transmission as opposed to breathing normally. Running is a great example. While it’s difficult to wear a mask while running, participants in the Lions Club 5K will want to be mindful of staying distanced from other runners, and spectators might want to consider masking up.
Those who are unvaccinated should definitely mask up in a crowded outdoor situation, and that includes children too young to be vaccinated. While the Town has intentionally avoided “closed” carnival rides like bounce houses, laser tag or tunnels, the carnival is still likely to be a high density crowd. You may want to consider packing masks for your children if they’re planning on participating in the carnival.
What it really boils down to, says Reed, is common sense. “Obviously, there’s a certain inherent risk you take,” he says. “Make sure you wash your hands. Be mindful of the things you touch and who you’re around.”
And on one point, Reed is crystal clear: if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, it’s not too late. “I think for people who are unvaccinated, it’s like a ticking time bomb,” says Reed. “If you believe in the science, by all means, get the shot. It’s certainly not too late. Get vaccinated, wear your mask, social distance, practice good hygiene: at this point, that’s still the best advice.”
The Novant Health will be on site from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm on Saturday, October 23, administering both COVID-19 vaccinations and flu shots. Information about scheduling an appointment will be available closer to the date of the event.