Is it safe to hug your friends during the pandemic?

is it safe to hug coronavirus
Photo via Albert Dobrin/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

Experts say it’s probably too soon to begin hugging people who are not part of your household during the coronavirus pandemic. 

If you hug a friend, you’re not observing social distancing guidelines suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say that everyone should maintain six feet of distance from one another. 

Even in the CDC guidelines for faith communities, it recommends that leaders consider whether physical contact like hugging can be limited among members of their community.

In a survey conducted by Politico, 18 experts said on a scale of one to 10, where 10 is the biggest risk, hugging was at a 6.8. Nearly 2,000 U.S. voters said it was a 6.9. Politico noted that although the averages were similar between experts and Americans, there was a wide variety of opinions. 

Elizabeth Stuart, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Politico that a hug’s safety depends on how you do it. 

 “There’s increasing evidence the really high-risk interactions are when you’re in an enclosed space for more than 15 minutes with someone who is infected,” Stuart said. “So a hug where you have masks on and wash your hands after, that might be where some of the lower-risk votes are coming from.”

Experts who spoke to the Atlantic were more firm in their stance against hugging. 

 “There are so many friends I would love to hug right now, but it’s a no,” Elizabeth Carlton, a professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, said.

People who choose to hug their friends and family should do so with the knowledge that there is a risk they could infect that person and vice versa. In Chicago, the CDC traced the Chicago coronavirus outbreak to two family gatherings and said the chain reaction began with a hug, according to the Washington Post

“These findings highlight the importance of adhering to current social distancing recommendations, including guidance to avoid any gatherings with persons from multiple households and following state or local stay-at-home orders,” the CDC told the Washington Post.

Is it safe:

Sources: Politico, CDC, The Atlantic, Washington Post

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