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
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.

<

MOST RECENT

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Number of daily new COVID-19 cases in Galveston County up nearly 300% since late October

A total of 14,465 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-March; of the total cases, 89% are considered to have recovered.A total of 14,465 county residents have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-March; of the total cases, 89% are considered to have recovered.

Dozens of clinics throughout the county offer COVID-19 testing services. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
COVID-19 testing locations remain open in Montgomery County and more local news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

Heading into Thanksgiving, Texas Medical Center continues to report uptick in hospitalizations

The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Texas Medical Center facilities has increased by more than 50% over two weeks.

Adelaide's sells items from local brands whenever possible, such as kits from The Heights-based My Drink Bomb. (Colleen Ferguson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Adelaide's Boutique stores strive to be ‘first-stop’ shops for gifts

The Adelaide’s Boutique locations—14870 Space Center Blvd., Houston, and 6011 W. Main St., League City—are meant to serve as customers’ destinations for clothes, shoes, accessories, gifts and other boutique items, many of which are locally sourced.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.

"Remember, we don't want to invite COVID-19 to the dinner table," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a Nov. 23 press conference urging caution amid rising COVID-19 positivity rates. (Screenshot via ABC13)
Mayor Sylvester Turner urges caution heading into Thanksgiving holiday

Houston officials also said 333 health providers had been identified as future vaccine delivery sites.

With remote learning opportunities becoming increasingly prevalent, CCISD is reviewing its flexible learning options—such as Cyber Cafe and the Clear Connections program—and examining current TEA guidelines to determine if changes are needed to any of these programs and policies. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
Clear Creek ISD updates: District adding new 2021-22 secondary courses, improving educational experiences

Five new secondary courses will be offered next school year; some courses will replace those previously offered, and some will be new courses altogether.

New guidance from the Texas Education Agency allows districts to require virtual learners who are failing classes or who have three or more unexcused absences to return to school in person. (Courtesy Canva)
Clear Creek ISD imposes grades-based restrictions on virtual learning

Although the Texas Education Agency allows schools to use attendance as a reason for mandating in-person learning with some students, CCISD officials chose to only focus on those who are academically struggling.

protestor in crowd with who police the police sign
New report: Houston police oversight board lagging behind major Texas cities

The report suggested having no oversight board has a better effect on public trust than having a dysfunctional board.

Laura Colangelo
Q&A: Laura Colangelo discusses challenges facing private schools during pandemic

Colangelo said private schools have adapted to remote learning and other obstacles in 2020 despite less revenue and a 9% decline in enrollment statewide.

Shake Shack opened its new standalone location at The Woodlands Mall in November. (Courtesy Christine Han)
Shake Shack opens in The Woodlands Mall and more Houston-area updates

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.