Dr. Leana Wen: 5 tips to safely socialize during COVID-19

Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski recently asked Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore for her advice on socializing now that states are beginning to open up.
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People sit within social distancing circles in Brooklyn's Domino Park on May 17, 2020.Johannes Eisele / AFP via Getty Images file

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By Know Your Value staff

Now that many states are relaxing restrictions on gatherings and social distancing, many people are eager to start seeing friends in person again. But how do you this as safely as possible?

Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski recently asked Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former health commissioner for Baltimore to share her top tips. Here’s what she said:

1. Meet outdoors.

“There is virtually no risk of transmission if everyone is outside and stays six feet away from others,” said Dr. Wen. “You can make this easier to follow by spacing chairs at least six feet apart. If families are meeting up, have a designated place in the backyard for each family that's spaced at least 6 feet apart from other families. If there's a way to access your yard directly without going through the house, ask guests to use that entry point.” And if you live in an apartment, you can still invite people to a park, noted Dr. Wen.

2. Use common sense when serving drinks and food.

It’s safest to have each family to bring their own drinks and snacks, advised Dr. Wen. “Also safe is to set out glasses in advance and to pour drinks into the glasses, then to have people pick up the glasses themselves,” she added. “Don't share glasses or utensils. Don't pass around a plate of snacks or use a common serving spoon. If you want to serve chips and dip, put them into individual serving bowls for each family.”

3. Wave, but don't hug, kiss, or shake hands.

“I know we are all craving human contact, but it's best to keep physical distancing,” noted Dr. Wen. “If certain people must hug, for example, grandparents with grandchildren, realize this is a risk, but you may decide it's a risk worth taking. You can reduce that risk by everyone sanitizing their hands before and after, wearing masks during the hug, and both people turning away their heads.”

4. Keep an eye on the kids.

“Young kids may not follow physical distancing guidelines. Start small with one other family if this is a concern to make it easier to keep track of the kids,” suggested Dr. Wen. “You can try to make the physical distancing more fun by involving the kids, for example, having kids draw chalk outline of six feet around each family's seating area.”

5. Have a designated bathroom.

“It's best if no one needs to go inside, but if guests have to use a bathroom, find a bathroom that's as close to the outdoor space as possible to minimize time in the house,” said Dr. Wen. “Have wipes and hand sanitizer available. Ask each guest to take note of the surfaces they touch and to wipe down those surfaces after using them (for example, door knobs and faucets). Wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after using these shared spaces.”