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Risk Vs. Reward During COVID-19: Which Activities Are Worth It & Which Aren't

Sep. 2, 2020 - Katie McCallum

During COVID-19, pretty much every activity outside your home, and every gathering with people outside your household, comes with some level of risk — and some activities are riskier than others.

Social distancing, wearing a mask and proper hand hygiene can help reduce this risk, but these important preventive measures don't eliminate your risk entirely.

This means you're now faced with the dilemma of deciding what's a necessary risk and what's not — way more often than you'd probably like. It's unfortunate, to be sure, but it's our new reality. And one that will remain with us for quite some time.

And since staying at home 24/7 isn't really feasible, how do you decide which activities are worth the risk?

How to balance risk and reward during COVID-19

Protecting your health during our new normal means thinking about everyday activities in a way you never needed to before this pandemic. It also starts with knowing what makes an activity risky, as well as when the benefits outweigh the risks.

Activities become riskier as the chance of coming into close contact with people increases, the number of people in a space or area increases, and the length of time you're around people increases.

On the other hand, activities become more rewarding when they benefit your health or are a necessary part of keeping your everyday life afloat.

To reduce your chances of getting sick, as well as inadvertently getting someone more vulnerable than you sick, it's important to limit — if not avoid altogether — the activities in which the reward just doesn't outweigh the risk.

But, knowing which activities are worth it — and which aren't — isn't always clear...or, unfortunately, what you want to hear.

Low-risk, high-reward activities you can do "safely"

covid-19 risk vs. reward

We all know there are things we can't avoid doing just because we're in the middle of a pandemic.

The good news is that if you're practicing the right preventive measures, a lot of the important or essential activities you need to do every day are also low risk, including:

  • Running essential errands
  • Banking
  • Exercising in large outdoor spaces
  • Taking care of your health

 

And while we're on the topic of health, a healthy body means a stronger immune system — so staying on top of your health is more important than ever. And since our emergency departments, doctor offices, imaging centers and hospitals are taking plenty of precautions to keep you safe, your annual exam and any specialty care appointments, including your mammogram, as well as any emergency care you may need, are low risk activities with plenty of upside.

High-risk, low-reward activities you should consider limiting — or avoiding altogether

covid-19 risk vs. reward

Now it's time for the bad news. There are some things you're used to doing (and enjoy doing) that just aren't very safe during this pandemic, including:

  • Going to the gym
  • Sitting down at a restaurant, especially indoors
  • Going to an amusement park or movie theater
  • Hanging out at a bar with your friends
  • Browsing nonessential specialty stores

 

The key with high-risk activities — as well as low-risk, low-reward ones — is to do a gut check and ask yourself: "Is this really worth it?"

If you're at all unsure, it's probably not. In those cases, consider an alternative: like ordering your food to go, building an effective workout plan you can do at home, shopping online and using digital tools to connect and hang out with friends, instead.

In reality, you're not going to able to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 completely, but limiting how often you take risks — and ensuring that the risks you do take are actually worth it — can go a long way toward keeping yourself healthy during this pandemic.

 

Concerned you may have COVID-19?

  • If you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a Virtual Urgent Care provider 24/7. The provider will help you determine if testing is needed and advise you on where you should go.
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