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How to Tell If Socializing Indoors Is Safe

The Atlantic: “…No indoor gathering will be perfectly safe. Although many states have allowed indoor public settings such as gyms and restaurants to reopen at least in some capacity, experts don’t recommend spending a lot of time indoors with others, especially in situations where masking isn’t possible. The odds of catching the coronavirus are about 20 times higher indoors, and private, indoor gatherings have been linked to several coronavirus outbreaks. In June, a surprise birthday party in Texas resulted in 18 coronavirus cases. In July, a house party in Michigan led to 43 cases, and a family gathering in North Carolina led to 40 cases because the attendees “went about their daily lives” before they started showing symptoms. In some places, in-home gatherings are now responsible for the majority of new coronavirus cases. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report showed how a chain of family gatherings in Chicago led to three deaths. But it’s unrealistic to expect Americans to stay inside all winter without seeing anyone. Even if people could do that without going batty, it’s likely that, with January feeling endless and no stay-at-home order in place, people will take their chances. “Making a rule that says zero indoor gatherings until we have a vaccine is totally impractical,” says Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School. In the absence of such a rule, “we have a mishmash of risk communication and guidelines from different entities,” Marcus told me, “and people are continuing to muddle through. It’s funny, because now I’m sitting here thinking, What are the rules in my city? I actually don’t know.”…

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