Can you get COVID-19 while standing in line?

October 18, 2020
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    During the coronavirus pandemic, standing in line at a grocery store may be stressful for some.

    As the 2020 election slowly approaches, some states have begun early voting, raising concerns about contracting COVID-19 while waiting in line at the polls.

    Can you get the deadly virus while standing in line?

    Dr. Joseph Khabbaza, a pulmonary and critical care physician at the Cleveland Clinic, told Today that it is possible if you are not cautious.

    The doctor explained that if a person is standing in a line that is less than 6 feet apart and people are not wearing face masks, you are putting yourself at risk.

    In most public places across the country, face masks are typically mandatory.

    “If you’re distanced and wearing masks in the outdoors, it’s going to be very hard to get the virus if somebody is infected in line,” Khabbaza said.

    How Can You Reduce the Risk?

    Don't engage in conversation with others. Experts say that COVID-19 is mostly transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets. If you are speaking loudly and the line is crowded, this has the potential to cause more droplets.

    Wear a face shield in addition to a face mask. Khabbaza said it helps cover your eyes and gives additional protection for your mouth and nose. “I've never felt safer than when I have my mask on and a shield over my face,” he said.

    Be aware of your hands. Always bring hand sanitizer if you touch public surfaces. Do not touch your face, mouth and eyes.

    Take action if someone is standing too close. Standing at least 6 feet apart is a safe option, but if you are indoors, you should try to be further apart from people.

    If you feel that you are too close to someone, you can always move back.

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