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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Creeping back to normal

in: Bash; Bash > 2020-06-16

Jun 17, 2020 12:20 PM # 
A nice start in that direction.
Jun 17, 2020 5:26 PM # 
Yes, at this stage, I'm looking forward to relatively short and well distanced outdoor visits with 1-3 friends at a time, not too often and sitting still for the most part. Because 'Bent is a health care provider, it is really important to keep our risk low.

I'm still not super comfortable with the lack of science on exercising with other people, particularly running. I'm not able to run on a forest trail and have a conversation unless I get close to the other runner occasionally. As a runner, I know we breathe hard, snort, sniffle and speak loudly to be heard, and that all increases the risk. Being outside decreases the risk but outdoor transmissions have occurred between people just standing and chatting. If we have to avoid conversation to reduce risk, I'd rather run alone.

Biking with someone for 60-90 minutes is lower risk because it's easier to comply with distancing. Most of the conversation happens when you're stopped and can control your distancing more easily. Bikes help you to maintain distancing when you're on the move, too. So although I have no plans in the foreseeable future, I wouldn't say no if the opportunity came up.

Virtually everything has some risk so it feels like every life decision includes analysis of probabilities and priorities right now!
Jun 17, 2020 6:26 PM # 
I won't disagree with your decision to avoid a run with someone for the time being (I'm doing the same), though it seems to me that the risk is much greater if you're standing still and talking at each other. Running side-by-side, with the air constantly changing, seems like a non-issue. But until we get good word that that's most likely the case I guess we're stuck being loners.
Jun 17, 2020 8:49 PM # 
I agree that running side by side at an appropriate distance for a medium length run should be relatively low risk, based on what is currently known. I never do that kind of running with friends in normal times but I've talked with one friend who is running that way on wide trails with one friend only. I have another friend who runs 50 m ahead of her friend and I'd say she is totally safe - but why the heck bother?

I'm mostly a solo runner but when I run with someone, we run single file on narrow trails, usually closed in by trees. When the person in front of me (because of COURSE they're in front of me) says something while facing away from me, I have to run up within a foot or two and ask them to say it again. Sometimes more than once.

This North Carolina professor of health and exercise science specializes in exercise and the immune system - not infectious disease - but I've seen him quoted several times on his advice to run alone during the pandemic. This article is old though. "I have run 58 marathons and I know how it is running with buddies. Everybody is breathing heavy and spitting and snorting and clearing their throat." He's not wrong.

One reason it's lower risk to sit and have a distanced outdoor beer with someone is that less virus is expelled when you're talking in a normal voice than when you're breathing hard while exerting yourself and speaking in a louder voice. If you stay together too long while doing just about anything, the risk goes up so the time spent together is a factor too.

The other question is whether you will stay the same distance apart while running as you do while sitting. We sat 4-5 meters from our guests last night, and that was tightly controlled by placing our chairs in the desired positions. When you are running with someone, the distance between you isn't fixed and tends to accordion.

I've been searching hard for good science on this for a long time because there is such a wide range of opinion among my friends. Everyone, including me, is an amateur infectious disease expert right now. I recognize that I'm not likely to get my question answered by a peer-reviewed paper any time soon because of ethical issues with a study that would look at this question directly. ("Looking for volunteers to run trails behind Covid positive people.")

Instead, all I can find is a variety of expert opinions and a few studies that have shown significantly lower (but not zero) transmission outdoors. And then there is that Belgian-Dutch simulation of droplets but it needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt. If anyone has seen any real science on this, please share!
Jun 18, 2020 2:28 PM # 
I’ve spent much less time on trails of any kind this year because I don’t think it is the best place to exercise right now. What I do see when I am on, or near a trail is that people are running or cycling with others and generally maintaining a distance within their group.

But two things compromise that:
1) something interesting happens, like this morning a turtle photo opportunity and the accordion closes
2) the trail doesn’t accommodate two groups distancing while travelling at different paces, or in different directions. I often see two people distancing while together on opposite side of the path. Everyone going by them has to pass between. I understand that it is easier to chat with someone 2m to your side than it is if they are 2m behind you, but you end up making a gesture to distancing but not really taking it to heart.

I know I move a lot more air when I’m working out. I wish I knew how long it stayed in the air. For now I hedge by mostly not breathing if I’m within about 5m of anyone. And this year I am probably 85-90% on roads rather than spending the majority of my time on trails.
Jun 18, 2020 6:31 PM # 
I've seen those issues on our local rail trail too - one reason I haven't spent much time on it this year.

A Michigan journalist asked four infectious disease experts to rate 36 activities for Covid risk on a scale of 1 to 10. The doctors said the factors they considered were:

- Inside vs. Outside
- Proximity to Others
- Exposure Time
- Likelihood of Compliance
- Personal Risk Level.

The Article

The ratings are based on expert opinion because there is minimal science; the numbers are an average of the 4 experts' ratings out of 10.

Interestingly, for dental offices, the one retired expert was out of synch with the others, rating it as a high risk situation and boosting the risk rating. Without going into detail, it is false that a trip to the dentist is riskier than a trip to the grocery store. The risk *might* be higher for the dentist but the jury is still out on that.

The risk factor that caught my eye was one that I've been thinking about a lot: Likelihood of Compliance. A different expert rated an outdoor wedding with 10+ guests as a high risk activity, which surprised me. Their rationale was that weddings are events where people are less likely to comply with social distancing, regardless of good intentions. Similarly, bars are rated as more risky than restaurants of similar design, simply because people are inclined to drink too much, get close and lose inhibitions.

Lack of compliance happens in little, unintentional ways too. On the weekend, I went for a "10 minute driveway visit" that extended to 25 minutes in the back yard simply because we're all starved for connection. As a one-off, that's not too risky but if I did that regularly, the additional risk would add up. It's really hard to set limits and comply with them because it's all so unnatural. I find it easier to avoid situations where it will be tempting to stretch my rules. Recently, a friend used considerable peer pressure including words like "stupid" in an unsuccessful attempt to get company for a run. There's an extra level of social stress arising from differences in personal and/or community-minded risk tolerance that's going to continue for a long time. Hence my search for science to help guide decision making.

The good news for people on Attackpoint is that everything points to the risk of outdoor transmission being much lower than indoor. One Japanese study found the risk outdoors to be 19 times lower. A Chinese study of contact tracing found only one outbreak traced to the outdoors (a conversation in the street) out of hundreds of cases. Compared to being indoors, there's more air flow and more dilution of virus particles. If it's sunny, the UV makes it even safer. Double the distance to 4 meters, add masks if you want to be extra careful, ask your friends if they have symptoms before they come over, set a time limit, don't breathe hard or sing together, don't do it too often, and you have an option for low risk social interactions until the science becomes more clear.
Jun 18, 2020 6:44 PM # 
And there's still Zoom, of course! I've just been approached for my first FaceTime run with someone - a special case to help with one of the challenges in my virtual Scavenger Hunt.

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