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The #1 Thing to Avoid Doing This Summer, Warns Coronavirus Expert

The game must go on, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a spectator.
A cheerleader girl in a medical mask and rubber gloves takes a selfie or photographs on a smartphone alone in an empty stadium with red seats

If you are into sports, the coronavirus pandemic has obviously put a damper on your fan fever. Whether you play, have a child who does, or simply love attending live sporting events, you are probably looking forward to the words "let's play ball" or "on your mark, get set, go!" However, before you throw your favorite jersey on and get ready to cheer, one of the nation's top infectious disease expert has some advice that could save your life.

Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist and associate professor at the school of medicine, reveals to Eat This, Not That! Health the one activity he will not be engaging in anytime soon. "This summer, I will not attend a live sporting event particularly those with potentially large crowds and that are played indoors," he maintains. 

Why You Should Not Attend a Sporting Event

Why is he so concerned about baseball stands, sports arenas, and bleachers?  "Risks of contracting COVID are highest in that context related to one or more of the following (a) prolonged exposure to individuals from different parts of town, state or country (b) sitting or standing in close quarters where maintaining physical distancing is challenging (c) risk of contact with frequently touched surfaces is high (d) the cheering and yelling which invariably occurs during games promotes expulsion of respiratory and oral secretions and because it is challenging to do so with masks on, can lead to spread of infections."

He does point out that adherence to CDC guidelines—wearing a mask, practicing hand hygiene, and social distancings (which can be impossible at sports events!)—may mitigate this risk, "there is still too much ongoing community transmission of COVID, including from people who are asymptomatic or presymptomatic who will unwittingly present to public events and spread infection."

"Therefore, it makes sense that opening up sporting events to the public (fans) should be included in the very last reopening phase when all indicators suggest that the wave of infection is over or at least close to that," he explains. 

RELATED: 15 Mistakes You're Making With Face Masks

Players Should be Worried, Too

He also points out that players should be equally—if not more—concerned about coronavirus spread than fans. "It is important to also note that for team sports, for the players, spread of infection between teammates may also occur during practice and game prep as has been observed already for many sports teams," he says. "So there are too many risks for fans and players alike at this time."

The Futures League, one of the summer collegiate baseball leagues, plans to have spectators this summer. A NASCAR race in Homestead-Miami had 1,000 visitors from a nearby Naval base. Most recently, tennis star Novak Djokovic and his wife tested positive for the virus, while on the Adria Tour in Croatia. 

Therefore, you won't be finding Dr. Ogbuagu in the stands of his sport-of-choice this summer. "I usually attend the US Open for tennis every year, but will stay away this year and watch from home," he explains. (The tournament isn't allowing spectators anyway.) "I will still be able to enjoy the sport, but in safer circumstances!" 

As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
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