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Experts break down COVID-19 exposure risks


Experts say it's important to know the risks of exposure to COVID-19 in everyday activities as cases continue to increase.

According to a graph made by the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force, physicians ranked on a scale of one to 10 how risky certain activities are to being exposed to COVID-19.

Dr. Ashley Millham, Columbia/Boone County Health Department Medical Director, broke down why the risks pertained to each category.

Millham said pumping gas is considered low risk, but said there is still definitely a risk as people share the same equipment making them a high touch area.

Millham said pumping gas is much less of a risky situation if people wash and santize their hands and stay six feet from another person.

Everyday activities like going for a walk or run, eating outside at restaurant and grocery shopping are examples of moderate-low risks of being exposed to the virus if people follow social distancing and good hygiene practices.

“That grocery stores setting it's really just going to be the shared kind of high touch areas again," Millham said. "So as long as you're being really smart about not touching your mask, not touching your face, mouth or nose areas, and.... washing your hands really diligently before and after then that should remain a lower risk.”

Millham said shopping in a mall, going to work in an office building for a week and sending kids to school or daycare are all moderate risks as people are likely going to be exposed to more people than they would if they stayed home, but she said most of these activities are stable groups.

“That's less outside exposures coming into that group," Millham said, "But there's also if there is someone who has the infection unknowingly in that group, it's decreasing how many people could pick it up, take it home and you can just imagine things like this it's just, it's an exponential spread once that spread occurs.”

Millham said going to a hair salon, eating inside of a restaurant or playing outside contact sports is a moderate high risk as more people are coming into contact with possibly new people each day with different exposures sharing the same space. 

While activities like working out in a gym, going to a large concert or sports games going to a bar are where people could face the the highest risk of COVID-19 exposure. 

“This is really where you're seeing those mass numbers of people," Millham said. "Those types of events have the ability to spread this virus here scarier than it's already spreading.”

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Amber Tabeling

Amber joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in December 2019. She was a student-athlete at Parkland College and Missouri Valley College. She hails from a small town in Illinois.


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