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How to stay safe during Phase 3 of reopening

July 15, 2020
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Museums, fitness centers, indoor recreation centers and more have reopened under phase three of Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-part reopening plan.

Residents remain cautious

A new poll shows many Massachusetts residents are reluctant to participate in pre-pandemic activities. 83% of the survey’s 500 respondents said they are still practicing social distancing.

Dr. Armando Paez, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Baystate Medical Center, spoke with MassLive about how people can stay safe as the state reopens.

“In my opinion, going into the third phase, knowing the poll results, that people are really very careful, I don’t see, really, that another wave will come, as long as people follow those rules of social distancing and preventive measures,” Dr. Paez said.

How we can prevent surges

He explained that in other parts of the United States, people thought they could stay safe without practicing preventative measures as their states reopened.

“It’s really hard to compare Massachusetts to other states, but what we know is we learned a lot from the epidemic,” Paez said. “We know that masking helps. We know that hand-washing helps to prevent infection. We know that physical distancing really helps.”

In other states, not following CDC guidelines has led to surges of COVID-19 cases.

“It just proves a point that there’s actually science behind this and it actually translates to the actual cases we see,” Dr. Paez said.

Q&A with Dr. Paez

MassLive spoke with Dr. Paez about people’s COVID-19 questions and concerns.

Which pre-pandemic activities are safe?

Dr. Paez explained that many activities are safe if you practice preventative measures.

“I think it’s reasonably safe to eat outdoors,” he said. “Indoor activities are more of a risk compared to outdoor activities, because of the ventilation, and so as long as you follow the social distancing rules of six feet, wearing face coverings, I think you’re reasonably safe to engage in outdoor activities.”

Is using public transportation safe?

Dr. Paez says using public transportation and flying on planes can also be safe.

“Being in an enclosed area or maybe touching commonly touched surfaces in public transport, people of course will be very wary of these things,” he said. “But again, the rate of transmission in the community is much lower than other states.”

Should I send my child to daycare?

“The issue that people are aware of is that if your kid’s in daycare and then you get them and then if they get infected, you bring that in the household,” Paez said. “If there are high-risk individuals, meaning people with who are at high risks of complications from this infection, then that is going to be a problem for that household.”

Should I send my kids to school in the fall?

Dr. Paez told MassLive that people’s hesitations are understandable.

“I think that will be the challenge,” he said. “As it is, even without COVID-19, having kids sit still and follow the rules may be challenging, and now you’re going to mix in the COVID-19 guidelines along with some other school guidelines.”

He said we should be aware of these factors.

Learn more about COVID-19 safety at Baystate Health.