Here are 5 summertime activities in the Bay Area, ranked by COVID-19 risk level

While swimming in Galveston is a popular summertime activity for Bay Area residents, one public health expert warned that this is a moderate- to high-risk activity amid the pandemic. (Courtesy Galveston Island Park Board)
While swimming in Galveston is a popular summertime activity for Bay Area residents, one public health expert warned that this is a moderate- to high-risk activity amid the pandemic. (Courtesy Galveston Island Park Board)

While swimming in Galveston is a popular summertime activity for Bay Area residents, one public health expert warned that this is a moderate- to high-risk activity amid the pandemic. (Courtesy Galveston Island Park Board)

Karen Alexander, a nursing professor at University of Houston-Clear Lake, said that social distancing, diligent sanitation and limiting exposure to people outside the household are essential when planning family leisure time amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Bay Area offers numerous opportunities for residents to get out of the house, but some are safer than others even while following proper health and safety guidelines.

Here are her rankings for several common summertime activities.

Indoor games: low

Indoor activities, like building with Legos or playing video games, are considered low-risk—as long as any materials being passed back and forth are sanitized. Video game hand controls, for example, should be disinfected after use, and children should wash their hands and faces once done with the games, Alexander said.

Outdoor movie night: low



For those in need of a night at the theater, Alexander suggested buying a projector and an outdoor screen. A backyard movie setup can safely host eight to 10 people while maintaining social distancing.

Kemah Boardwalk: moderate

If families are socially distancing and wearing masks while in public, the risks are mostly mitigated, but this also depends on how crowded the area is that day, Alexander said. Kids of all ages should wear masks in these environments to protect those at risk, she added. For those going on rides, only one person should be in each car with the next person or car 6-8 feet away.

Plane travel: moderate

Alexander said families should consider alternative travel options besides boarding a plane. Even if someone sits in the aisle seat with another person in the window seat, the empty middle seat does not provide a proper 6-foot barrier for social distancing. This means relying on the air compression of the aircraft to contain the virus, and there is no guarantee that will work, Alexander said.

Swimming (pool or beach): moderate to high

While chlorine will kill the COVID-19 virus, most swimmers are generally not socially distancing or wearing masks while enjoying time in the water, Alexander said. Moreover, once wet, people tend to touch their eyes, faces and mouths more often. A distance of 8 feet apart is more appropriate in the water, Alexander said, which is not always possible.

By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.


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