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Norfolk Health Director: People are safer from COVID-19 at outdoor events compared to indoor events, but distance is key

“What we do need to think about is crowd size. Your chances are less, but it’s not zero.”

NORFOLK, Va. — Health experts say when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, we are heading in the wrong direction.

Norfolk Health Director Dr. Parham Jaberi said COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have climbed back to where they were last winter after a surge related to the more contagious Delta variant.

"The spread has increased to the point of where we were almost in late January, early February," Jaberi said. "We have increased by tenfold since our lowest numbers."

Jaberi added that the numbers are much higher than they were in September 2020.

Health experts said much of the backslide is because people started to let their guards down. Some larger gatherings, such as festivals, returned this summer. We also saw the return of fall sports.

We asked Jaberi how great the risk is when it comes to some of those events.

“If you’re outside at a stadium, if you’re participating in a parade or festival, the cases are much less," Jaberi said. “Your chances are less, but it’s not zero."

For example, Norfolk is holding the first-ever Nashfest 757, a music and food festival

A statement from Norfolk Festevents said organizers are “following guidance” from the experts and all “scheduled events are set to take place at outdoor, open-air venues.”

Jaberi said they're doing the right thing.

He said you’re much less likely to get COVID-19 while you’re outside, versus indoors, but it’s important to keep in mind the crowd size and your proximity to others.   

“In an outdoor setting you might not have the same risk of contracting the virus, what happens when you’re at a vending stand, what happens when you’re using the facilities," Jaberi said.

“We want people to enjoy their time with others, with families, but really they need to take into consideration the size, consider how close they’re sitting to others.”

The CDC says you’re less likely to be exposed to COVID-19 if you attend outdoor events, (versus indoors), and stay at least six feet apart from others. If you can’t social distance, wear a mask.